Claude Monet Blog

Rare Monet artwork attracts record sales price


Feb 15 2012 10:53PM | by Staff Editor

Impressionism is officially off the mat (to use a boxing analogy) and out of the doldrums to be the pretty puppy in art auctions around art capitals of the world. Don’t take our word for it, though: just look at the sales figures from the latest art auctions and you can see oil paintings associated with Impressionism as a movement, and with Impressionist artists, have skyrocketed as of late. Leading this charge, suitably so, is one of the stalwarts of Impression, Claude Monet. The work in question is Monet’s oil painting from 1885 known as The road leading to Giverny under snow, or in its original French, “L’Entrée de Giverny en hiver.” It sold last week for £8.2 million at a Sotheby’s London sale, well above the estimate of £4.5 million to £6.5 million. The 65.5 by 85.5cm oil on canvas work was special because this was the first time it had ever been offered at auction: it was only offered to the open market once in 1924, when it was bought up by a collector, who only publicly displayed it at one exhibition in 1930, the Claude Monet retrospective in 1930 at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. The... Read more

Monet’s Magpie


Jan 22 2012 09:55PM | by Staff Editor

Before Impressionism as a movement and as a style of painting had been fully formed, Claude Monet already had a sizeable catalogue of work in his early oeuvre. The works that he created in his late teens in Le Havre in Normandy, the works that he created prior to serving in Algeria as part of the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry and the works he created while studying at the atelier of Marc Charles Gabriel Gleyre in Paris all fall into this bracket. One of the most iconic oil on canvas from his early career is The Magpie, painted between 1868 and 1869. The work was only the second snowscape painting that Monet had ever attempted, the first being The Cart. Snow Covered Road at Honfleur from 1867, but The Magpie is still regarded by many as the finest of the approximately 140 snowscapes that he created during his illustrious career. In many ways The Magpie demonstrated Monet’s mastery of different styles and techniques that his teachers had imparted to him. The work shows the influence of Eugene Boudin and the en plein air methodology that he had first shared with Monet, and about whom Monet later said, “If... Read more

Monet’s Great Triptych


Jan 10 2012 05:36PM | by Staff Editor

If you’re in and around the St Louis area in Missouri, time is quickly running out for you to appreciate and admire one of the most iconic works in the oeuvre of French Impressionist master Claude Monet. The exhibition, Monet’s Water Lilies, will be running at the St Louis Art Museum in Forest Park, St Louis, until the 22nd of January. It is the result of a recent collaboration between the St Louis Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City and The Museum of Art in Cleveland, and has brought together three separate paintings that comprise Monet’s The Agapanthus Triptych for the first time since 1978. It is believed that Monet began work on The Agapanthus Triptych around 1915 and that he continued to work on the oil paintings until the time of his death in December of 1926. The background and the historical context in which the works were created are key in understanding how they fit within Monet’s work as a whole, and how they came to be held in the esteem that they are today. For those unfamiliar with the term, a triptych typically consisted of three paintings or wood panels, hinged together and traditionally... Read more

The Houses Of Parliament Series


Dec 27 2011 01:40PM | by Staff Editor

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro both travelled to England to escape the conflict, living for the majority of their stays in London. However, although Pissarro later wrote in a letter, “Monet and I were very enthusiastic over the London landscapes”, it seems evident that the two artists enthusiasms concerned very different landscapes in the city. Pissarro focused on suburban areas like Norwood which he described as “charming’, while Monet focused almost exclusively on Westminster, the Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. This was to be a subject that he would return to some 30 years later, when his impressionism was fully developed and better formed. The Houses Of Parliament Series is comprised of about nine oil paintings that Monet completed during his visits to London between 1900 and 1904. All of the canvases are exactly the same size, and they are painted using exactly the same perspective having all been executed from Monet’s window at St Thomas’ Hospital overlooking the River Thames. All of the works are typically Impressionist in their realisation, with Monet obsessed with capturing variations in lighting and atmospheric conditions, in particular fog. But Monet’s series was much more than just... Read more

Thieves Sentenced In Monet Theft Case


Dec 25 2011 09:21PM | by Staff Editor

We recently brought you details recently of an ongoing court case in the south of France concerning the theft of a Claude Monet oil painting. At the trial in city of Aix-en-Provence, seven defendants stood trial, accused of a 2007 theft from the Museé des Beaux-Arts in Nice. Along with Monet’s Cliffs Near Dieppe, which had been stolen from the Museé des Beaux-Arts previously in 1998, the gang made off with stole two Breughels oil paintings, Allegory Of Earth and Allegory Of Water, as well as an Alfred Sisley canvas, Avenue Of Poplars At Moret, (that was being stolen for the third time from the Nice museum). They had tried to make off with a second Sisley painting but had dropped it as they were making their getaway, breaking the frame but leaving the canvas unharmed. Monet painted Cliffs Near Dieppe in 1897 in Normandy in northern France, as part of a series of works that focused on the coastline in the area. Although it (and Sisley’s Avenue Of Poplars At Moret) was first stolen from the Museé des Beaux-Arts in 1998, the canvas was later recovered from a yacht moored in the nearby port of Saint Laurent du Var.... Read more

A Monet painting stolen; weird claims ensue


Nov 30 2011 06:11PM | by Staff Editor

The story is almost too good to believe: a rented yacht, a bevy of bikini-clad beauties, free flow alcohol and the trade of famous stolen oil paintings in exchange for Colombian cocaine, gold and cash. It’s said that if you’re going to lie, you should lie big, to see what you can get away with. Well, everything we just mentioned wasn’t a lie, but part of an elaborate FBI plan to entrap a worldwide criminal organisation that traded stolen oil paintings, among them a valuable Monet. The problem is that one of the accused standing trial has now claimed the FBI requested a theft, a claim the Bureau has vehemently denied. The story begins back in 2007 when thieves broke into the Musée des Beaux Arts on August 5 and stole two Breughels oil paintings – Allegory of Earth and Allegory of Water – the Alfred Sisley oil painting Avenue of Poplars at Moret and the Claude Monet oil painting Cliffs Near Dieppe. At the time authorities estimated the paintings were worth about USD 29.6 million, although selling them as stolen works would only fetch about USD$4 million. The French police had no leads, but a few cigarette butts and... Read more

Mini Monet – could he be as good as the real thing?


Nov 20 2011 11:50AM | by Staff Editor

“Kieron Williamson is the kind of child prodigy who makes us marvel at the miracle that is human creativity...Williamson's paintings are triumphs of observation, skill and imagination. For a child of nine to paint such sensitive and accomplished landscapes is an awe-inspiring achievement.” The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones, on England’s Mini Monet. It doesn’t take much to be labelled something derogatory by the British press. Happy to court potential defamation lawsuits, Fleet Street in England is known for its inventive and (mostly) clever headlines and stories, even if at times the feeling is thoroughly unwanted by the subjects. So it definitely speaks volumes when all the major news organisations collectively label a nine-year-old from Norfolk Broads Mini Monet and bask him in the light of a glowing national press. To be sure, Kieron Williamson is seriously the real deal. He isn’t one of those phoney child prodigies with artist parents who can’t paint in front of the camera, and then magically produce oil paintings (yes, we all know the parents do it, but we can’t prove it, can we?). Kieron paints in the front of the camera, his parents unashamedly point out there is no artistic talent whatsoever in... Read more

Monet paintings, and more, in the Nahmad Collection


Oct 30 2011 11:07AM | by Staff Editor

In a world of pushing boundaries, five minutes of fame, and celebrities now down to the D-list, it is little wonder that museums have to increasingly clamour for attention in the public sphere. More and more exhibitions bill themselves as world firsts or never seen before and it is in this vein that we approach the latest offering from the Kunsthaus Zürich and its latest exhibition, Miró, Monet, Matisse – The Nahmad Collection. To be fair, the collection does feature individual oil paintings and sculptures rarely seen in public, but none of them deviate much from the main oeuvre of the artists. The Nahmad family, who are international art dealers based in Monaco, certainly had an eye for good oil paintings, and the Monet, Matisse and Miro works are instantly recognisable among others. Let us examine the standout Monet oil painting on show, Canotiers à Argenteuil (Boatmen at Argenteuil), a 60cm by 81cm oil on canvas artwork completed in 1874. This oil painting displays Monet on the money and in his prime: a tantalising blue body of water reflects the summer sky while a sailing boat with white sails creates the perfect Impressionist reflection and ripples on the water. Completing... Read more

Monet secret pastel painting


Oct 18 2011 10:10AM | by Staff Editor

French Impressionist Claude Monet needs no introduction. The man, after all, can claim credit to inspiring the very term impressionism after a critic panned one of his earliest works (and now most valued works), Impression, soleil levant, or, Impression, Sunrise. But Monet was also adept at using pastels, and a trip to England in 1901 resulted in a Monet pastel drawing of London’s Waterloo Bridge now on sale for at least one USD$1.5 million. The image was drawn from his time sitting in plain air on his hotel room’s balcony at the famous Savoy Hotel, where he ultimately created a series of 26 paintings and drawings. Letters from Monet to his Camille bear some interesting insights into the adversities Monet faced when painting with a medium he rarely used. He “tried in vain to make some sketches in pastel”, but after several days realised the silver lining: “This amuses me a lot, even though I'm no longer accustomed to it, it occupies me and might be useful” he wrote in a letter to Camille. Why was he without his oils? English custom officials had in fact seized them and required them to be tested, so the enterprising artist bought a... Read more

Monet paintings reunited: the Agapanthus triptych


Oct 02 2011 12:08PM | by Staff Editor

Water lilies and Monet. We dare propose there have been literally tonnes of pages printed about the subject. So here are a few more cyber-grams from St. Louis Art Museum curator of modern and contemporary art Simon Kelly. The curator is a distinguished figure in the art world: he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and art history from Cambridge, and his doctorate in art history from Oxford. Among his numerous publications is the book Untamed: The Art of Antoine-Louis Barye (2006) and well-referenced essays such as Renoir Landscapes 1865–1883 (now at the National Gallery, London, 2007) and In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet (now at National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2008). As you’d expect, Monet holds a special place in Kelly’s heart. As such, he’s worked hard to feature the works of the master impressionist painter in the St Louis Art Museum exhibition entitled “Monet’s Water Lilies”. Kelly’s most favoured works in the exhibition are the three Monet oil paintings that together form the Agapanthus series: each 14 foot tall panels are supported by other studies Monet did for the triptych, as well as works from private collections. Kelly said the... Read more

Monet and the series of Rouen Cathedral oil paintings


Sep 18 2011 06:57PM | by Staff Editor

Monet was a rather famous painter. If you haven’t heard of him, we’d suggest a quick read of our Monet biography to fill in the blanks. For the initiated, we suspect you would have heard of the famous series of haystack Monet paintings. The artist painted a series of haystacks at different times of the day, capturing the Impressionist change. He also completed an equally stunning, but surprisingly less popular, series of Monet paintings on the Rouen Cathedral. So exactly what was it all about? Monet’s Rouen Cathedral oil paintings series captures the façade of the Rouen cathedral at different times of the day and year, all under different lighting conditions. Experts believe there are a total of 36, although there may be more, all painted between 1892 and 1894. To complete the Monet paintings the artist actually rented accommodation across the cathedral, where he established impermanent studios. In 1985, the scrupulous artist selected 20 of the best paintings and displayed them at his dealer’s gallery in Paris. Eight were sold, and among the early critics who approved of his work were none other than Cézanne and Pissarro. The Monet paintings were also produced in a time favouring religious work:... Read more

Camille Doncieux – beautiful to the end


Sep 04 2011 09:45PM | by Staff Editor

An often overlooked part of Claude Monet’s life is the inspiration, love and support he found in his first wife, Camille Doncieux. By most accounts, she is simply listed into three categories most often used (and unfairly, we think) to describe women in the early art world: model, mistress and/or wife. But she was much more than that. According to most accounts, Monet first met Camille Doncieux in 1865 when he began a large figurative painting, The Picnic. Camille was the model for the oil painting, along with his roommate and fellow painter, Frédéric Bazille. However, due to time constraints, Monet could not finish the piece in time – he turned the piece of canvas artwork into a life-sized portrait of Camille instead. The subsequent work earned high praise from the Paris Salon, earning Monet continued financial support from his relatives. Emboldened with his new direction and model, Monet again used Camille in the summer of 1866 when he painted Women in the Garden in the Ville d’Avray near Paris; a point of trivia here is that the four women in the garden are in fact all versions of Camille. Things began to go awry for the young couple in... Read more

How to leave an Impression, at Sunrise


Aug 08 2011 10:12AM | by Staff Editor

For those who do not immediately recognise the clue contained in the title of this blog as to what this post will be about, we’d suggest a quick once over of our Claude Monet biography. Now then, it is settled. For the Monet initiated, however, we hope to bring you an extra treat with a quick examination of this widely recognised painting. Just what is the genius behind Monet’s Impression, Sunrise? Impression, Sunrise is of course the name of the 1872 Monet painting and arguably one, if not the, most famous of all Impressionist works. The Monet painting gave rise to the actual name of the Impressionist movement; the title itself, as Monet himself recounts (according to the Forge and Gordon 1989 work, Monet), was largely accidental: “Landscape is nothing but an impression, and an instantaneous one, hence this label that was given us, by the way because of me. I had sent a thing done in Le Havre, from my window, sun in the mist and a few masts of boats sticking up in the foreground...They asked me for a title for the catalogue, it couldn’t really be taken for a view of Le Havre, and I said: ‘Put... Read more

The Constant Gardener


Jul 24 2011 10:00PM | by Staff Editor

For generations, Gilbert Vahe has been a steward to a throne that will never be filled again. His service is to the Claude Monet gardens in Giverny. Ever the faithful servant, Vahe has risked all to restore and maintain the legacy of the virtuoso impressionist. We live in extreme times, where marginal interests can often be relegated to casual indifference, particularly given the wealth of choices readily available. It becomes increasingly difficult to thoughtfully discriminate when approaching a nearly infinite array of possibilities. On the other hand, this scenario has given rise to new breeds of super-fans, where individuals display a dogged devotion to a singular thought, construct, object or legacy – like the Monet gardens in Giverny. When one imagines a super-fan, some may think of the recurring 90s skit on Saturday Night Live, where the cast, and the usual addition of George Wendt, spent several minutes extolling the virtues of their favorite team, the Chicago Bears. Despite the team’s range of success from downright terrible to almost mediocre during that period, this group always found something to cheer about – to comic effect. Gibert Vahe is a super-fan. And his Chicago Bears is Claude Monet. Vahe took the... Read more

Monet and impressionist gardening – a man for all seasons


Jul 11 2011 11:51AM | by Staff Editor

“What I need most are flowers, always, always” Claude Monet, 1840-1926 If one was to play a word association game between “Impressionist Artist” and “garden object, plant or flower”, what would the results be? One would hope any art cretin would respond to “Monet” with at least “lily”, “haystack” or at the very, very least, “garden”. Monet, co-founder of Impressionism, was most well known for his love of painting controlled nature. While contemporaries such as Sisley would indulge in wider landscapes and seascapes, Monet preferred to stay in gardens, be they his personal gardens or visiting well-known grounds of other estates. Monet paintings reflect the adoration the French Impressionist possessed for the contained and orderly goodness of a well-kept garden. He literally painted hundreds of paintings featuring gardens. One of his earliest and most recognisable oil paintings features his wife Camille Doncieux in the Women in the Garden, painted 1866-1867. Other works included Flowering Garden at Sainte-Adresse (1866); Garden at Sainte-Adresse (1867); Camille Monet on a Garden Bench (1873); The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil, (1880); The Garden in Flower (1900) and Garden Path (1902). A large part of Monet’s oeuvre actually reflects personal gardens. The famed Giverny gardens of Monet... Read more

A Trip to Monet's Famous Gardens


May 24 2011 11:11AM | by Staff Editor

For Claude Monet, a garden was more than a spot to putter and daydream through sunny springtime days. Instead, his garden was his inspiration and his passion. Many paintings by Monet, including his famous water lilies paintings and his Japanese bridge paintings were generated in his own backyard. And he slaved away in this backyard, digging out ponds, building bridges and purchasing rare and fragile plants. Some would say Monet's garden was as much a masterpiece as his paintings. Visitors to France can see those gardens for themselves, restored to their stunning former glory. Giverny is located about 50 miles outside of France. It's easily accessible by car, or some guests book special minibus day trips that shuttle them from Paris to Giverny. The gardens are open for tours between April and November, and tickets for adults cost about $11 US (or 8 euros). There are two gardens to tour. Guests are required to stay on the path (so no plants are trampled), but the views are simply stunning, and will be familiar to people who love paintings by Monet. The water garden is full of lilies that bloom all summer long. Trees bend and sweep to the ground. Tall... Read more

The Role of Cataracts in Monet Paintings


May 03 2011 08:48AM | by Staff Editor

Monet paintings are well known for their use of color and dappled light. Brushstrokes are quick and unblended. Paint is applied heavily. Forms are blurry and indistinct. The overall feeling is peaceful and soft. Modern viewers love them for these characteristics. Medical experts suggest that this painting style comes as a result, in part, of the cataracts Monet developed late in life. Cataracts cause a filmy, cloudy layer over vision. Colors shift from blue to yellow. Individual details become less distinct. These changes develop slowly, over a period of years, and the person with cataracts is often unaware of the changes until the cataracts are far advanced. In Monet paintings such as The River Epte at Giverney these changes are quite clear. Rather than blue waters, we're shown muddy yellow water. The line between the river and the shore is blurry and indistinct. It's as though a filmy screen was placed over our vision. It's difficult to know how these changes in vision impacted Monet. He was obsessed with colors throughout his life, and he must have felt the loss of his color perception more acutely than most people. If Monet had been alive today, his choices would have been... Read more

Monet Painting Damaged by Vandals


Apr 26 2011 10:26AM | by Staff Editor

In 2007, five drunken youths broke into a Paris museum in the middle of the night. They had been celebrating in the streets as part of an all-night festival, and chose to break into the museum by breaking a weak lock on a back door. Once inside, the youths roamed from room to room, before settling in front of a Monet painting. One boy punched a hole in Monet's Le Pont d'Argenteuil before the group fled from the museum. Le Pont d'Argenteuil is quite similar to many of Monet's paintings from his Argenteuil period that are contained in our collection. The artist lived in the area for 17 years, and was quite fond of painting the river and the boats sailing upon the rough waters. In Bassin d'Argenteuil, for example, the red hulls and white sails are perfectly reflected in the rippling water, underneath a slightly cloudy sky. The overall impact is peaceful. These seem to be scenes of tranquility, not scenes that would incite violence. There are, unfortunately, many examples one could point to of people who entered museums expressly to do harm and damage famous works. It's unclear why someone would choose to do such a thing, but... Read more

When it Comes to Monet, Two are Better Than One


Apr 10 2011 05:12PM | by Staff Editor

According to the BBC News, thousands of people stood in line in freezing cold temperatures at the end of January to visit a Monet exhibit in Paris. The show was one of the largest Monet exhibitions held in France in decades. Nearly 200 paintings were shown. The show was so popular, the Grand Palais opened around the clock and still was unable to cope with the demand. Staff served the crowd hot drinks and cake, creating a sort of festive atmosphere. Some people stood in line for 5 hours to enter the exhibit. We think we know why so many people attended. Claude Monet paintings often contain the same image, painted from different angles at different times of day. The series of paintings of haystacks by Monet, for example, show the same towers of grain in the snow, in the evening sun and in the bright summer sunshine. In another famous series of Monet paintings, the artist tackled images from his garden. The Monet water lilies series contains image after image of lilies floating in a pool of water. Some paintings contain more violet, some more blue, some are larger than others and some are small and delicate. Some Monet... Read more