CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
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CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)

Les bords de la Seine près de Vétheuil

CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
Les bords de la Seine près de Vétheuil
signed ‘Claude Monet’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
23 x 31 in. (58.4 x 78.7 cm.)
Painted in 1881
Charles Harrisson Tweed and Helen Minerva Evarts, New York (by 1905).
Katharine Winthrop Tweed and Graham B. Blaine, New York (by descent from the above, until at least 1956).
Vose Galleries, Boston.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owners, circa 1958.
Boston Sunday Globe Newspaper, 5 March 1905, p. 28.
J. Briggs Potter, "Department of Paintings" in Annual Report of the Year (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), 1917, vol. 42, p. 115.
J. Briggs Potter, "Department of Paintings" in Annual Report for the Year (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), 1918, vol. 43, p. 104.
M. de Fels, La vie de Claude Monet, Paris, 1929, p. 236.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1974, vol. I, p. 402, no. 675 (illustrated, p. 403).
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, p. 254, no. 675 (illustrated).
Boston, Copley Hall, Loan Collection of Paintings by Claude Monet and Eleven Sculptures by Auguste Rodin, March 1905, p. 19, no. 46 (dated 1897).
Museum of Fine Arts Boston (on extended loan, November 1917-October 1923).
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Claude Monet: Memorial exhibition, January 1927, no. 65.

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Lot Essay

Unseen in public for nearly a century, Claude Monet’s exquisite Les cords de la Seine près de Vétheuil belongs to an important series of works depicting the landscape around the village where he lived and worked between 1878 and 1881. In 1878, beset with financial difficulties, Monet left the bustling suburban town of Argenteuil, his home since the Franco-Prussian war, and settled further down the Seine valley in Vétheuil, a small rural enclave. The appeal of Argenteuil had waned for the artist as the encroachment of modernity—new factories, expanded rail service, and a burgeoning tourist industry—increasingly disrupted its bucolic calm. Vétheuil, sparsely populated and situated on a wide oxbow bend of the river Seine, provided ample inspiration for Monet.
The artist and his wife Camille initially lived together with Ernst and Alice Hoschedé and their combined children, though the house they had rented was too small for both families, and by the end of the year the Monets had moved to a larger property overlooking the Seine and the village of Lavacourt beyond. Monet would often take his boat out to paint, and for the next three years he would tirelessly explore the area, depicting the countryside in all seasons and atmospheric conditions. He happily wrote to a friend: "I have set up shop on the banks of the Seine at Vétheuil in a ravishing spot" (Monet, quoted in D. Wildenstein, Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism, Cologne, 1999, p. 137).
By this point, Monet had been hailed by noted critics such as Emile Zola and Georges Rivière. It was Monet's Impression, soleil levant, 1873 (Wildenstein, no. 263), shown at the first Impressionist exhibition, that provided a name for the group; the critic Louis Leroy famously wrote that this "impression" was less finished than half-manufactured wallpaper. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, Monet had painted scenes of yachting, promenading, and residential gardens at Argenteuil and Paris. He was primarily devoted to painting figures within contemporary settings, such as Camille Monet sur un banc de jardin (Wildenstein, no. 281, The Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Immediately prior to his move to Vétheuil, Monet painted numerous scenes in Paris—the Gare Saint-Lazare, the Parc Monceau, and the Rue Saint-Denis and Rue Montorgueil—but these paintings were the last time he would depict life in the French capital. Instead, he began to concentrate on landscape in its purest form, capturing elements of ephemeral and fugitive effects of light and atmosphere on this picturesque corner of the Île de France. Carole McNamara wrote, "Even among his landscape paintings there was a subtle change in emphasis. No longer did they show suburban promenades as they did at Argenteuil; the landscapes become more rural, with the human aspect reduced and occasionally totally removed as Monet looked back to the earlier Barbizon painting in which the viewer is alone in the rural landscape" (in Monet at Vétheuil: The Turning Point, exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, 1998, p. 67).
The years Monet spent in this idyllic hamlet represented a watershed in his career—"a decisive moment of personal and artistic reassessment' and 'the most momentous change in the career of the most revolutionary Impressionist" (ibid, 1998, pp. 13 and 41). Amidst personal turmoil, family tragedy and financial hardships, the artist forged a new direction in his art in which he focused on depictions of the fugitive aspects of nature, employing a nascent serial technique that laid the groundwork for his most important later productions. The present luminous painting vividly depicts the gentle rustling of the reedy foliage, and the dramatic effect of the sun as it saturates the verdant banks of the river.

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