Claude Monet (1840-1926)
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Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Effet de brouillard

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Effet de brouillard
signed 'Claude Monet' (lower left)
oil on canvas
19 x 29 5/8 in. (48.2 x 75.2 cm.)
Painted in 1872
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the artist in February 1873.
André Weil, Paris.
Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., London (no. 2385), by 1948.
Mrs Donaldson Magill, U.S.A., by circa 1975.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, New York, 10 May 1989, lot 27.
Possibly D. Cooper, The Courtauld Collection, London, 1954, p. 22.
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Lausanne, 1974, no. 249 (illustrated p. 221).
P. Hayes Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, London, 1982, pp. 35-36, 56 (illustrated fig. 16).
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1996, no. 249 (illustrated p. 108).
Possibly London, Durand-Ruel Galleries, 8th Exhibition of the Society of French Artists, 1874, no. 137 (titled A Misty Morning near Paris).
Boston, Saint Botolph Club, Monet, 1895, no. 5.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Monet, 1895, no. 48.
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Lot Essay

After almost ten months of self-imposed exile in England and Holland during the Franco-Prussian War, Monet returned to France and settled with his wife Camille on the banks of the Seine at Argenteuil, in December 1871. Only eleven kilometres from the rapidly expanding city of Paris, weary city dwellers came to this suburban idyll in search of the air pur de la campagne. Many of Monet's most celebrated Impressionist pictures were painted here, where as a landscape artist, he could indulge in his passion for plein air painting. He produced over 180 canvases in the six years he spent there, and many of his contemporaries came to stay and work there, attracted by his enthusiasm for this area of Normandy, ultimately making it synonymous with the Impressionist movement.

Painted a year after his move to Argenteuil, Effet de brouillard captures the deep serenity of the Norman countryside. The bustling summer season is over, the rich Parisians have returned home. Monet revelled in the breadth of subjects offered by Argenteuil. He was fascinated by the dichotomy presented by the captivating timeless natural beauty of the riverside town and its growing identity as a bourg industriel where the local residents embraced the encroachment of modernity. Indeed the very stillness of Effet de brouillard belies the radical transformations already underway. In the present work, Monet stands in the Sannois vineyards looking across the fields towards the town, the rural scene cloaked in a diaphanous veil of atmospheric mist. The bundles of twigs, the furrowed land evoke man's historic relationship with the land while the stakes absent of grapevines, the dormant earth, the active smoke-spewing factory chimney point to the changing face of the rural French countryside.

'Seeing the new houses and factories usurping the land that for so long had nourished the...rural traditions of Argenteuil, Monet realized that the peasant, the farmer, the vineyard owner--indeed all agrarian use of the land--were fated for extinction; that the town with its growing population and burgeoning industry would eventually absorb them and relegate them to history. Where progress was totally absent from Millet's Barbizon, it was the driving force in Monet's Argenteuil.' (P. Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven, 1982, p. 38).

Effet de brouillard is an highly sensitive interpretation of the ephemeral play of natural light across the countryside through a misty haze. In this early Impressionist painting, Monet uses muted tones of browns, greens and greys to masterly capture the effect of a late autumnal morning under a vast naturalistic sky. The subtly rendered misty atmosphere imbues the work with a magical quality, as visibility diminishes towards the low horizon, dramatically punctuated by the strong vertical chimney stack. The rapidity of short brushstrokes defining the wisps of emitted smoke, the upright stakes and bundles of twigs display Monet's commitment to capturing the fleeting moment as well as his careful attention to every detail. Here he asserts himself as the master of mood and pictorial lyricism.

While in London in 1870, Monet met Paul Durand-Ruel, an ardent admirer of the artist's work, who would later become his gallerist. This painting very likely featured in Durand-Ruel's 8th Exhibition of the Society of French Artists at 168 New Bond Street in London in 1874. Durand-Ruel's acquisitions of Monet's paintings, such as Effet de brouillard, offered Monet the financial freedom to enjoy this period of extraordinary creativity.

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