Sotheby's - November 5th, 2012 - Lot 22

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Iris, Claude Monet 1914-1917.


Sotheby's New York USA

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

05 November 2012, 07:00 PM

LOT 22

ESTIMATE 4,000,000-6,000,000 USD



Stamped with the artist's signature (lower right);
Stamped with the artist's signature on the reverse

Oil on canvas

7 1/2 by 39 1/2 in.
120.5 by 100.5 cm

Painted 1914-17.


Michel Monet

E. & Alice Tériade (1947 and sold: Christie's, New York, November 8, 2000, lot 26)

Private Collection, United Kingdom (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 21, 2004, lot 17)

Dickinson Gallery, London

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Basel, Kunsthalle, Impressionisten, 1949, no. 201

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Claude Monet, 1840-1926, 1952, no. 125 (titled Champ d'Iris)

Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Claude Monet, 2001, no. 54, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Bronx, The New York Botanical Garden, Monet's Garden, 2012, no. 4, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Gaston Bachelard, "Les Nymphéas ou les surprises d'une aube d'été," Verve, vol. VII, Paris, 1952, illustrated in color

Denis Rouart, Jean-Dominique Rey & Robert Maillard, Monet Nymphéas, ou le miroir du temps, Paris, 1972, illustrated p. 189

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Lausanne, 1985, no. 1825, illustrated p. 265

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Cologne, 1996, no. 1825, illustrated p. 865

Catalogue Note

The splendid irises that bloomed in May and June at Giverny were among Monet's favorites. Thousands of bearded irises in blue and lavendar spanned the boarder of his flower garden along the Grand Allée leading towards his house, and it is from this spectacular site that Monet was inspired to paint the present canvas. Although these flowers, named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, bloomed in a variety of colors, Giverny gardener and historian Elizabeth Murray tells us that blue was Monet's favorite floral color. In the present composition, thick dollups of purple-blue pigment project from the more saturated areas of the canvas, and the richly colored petals of the flowers punctuate the hazy colorfield of foliage green.

The present canvas dates from circa 1914-17, and was painted in the midst of the First World War. Monet was close to the nation's turmoil during this period, with his son on the battlefront and evidence of the wounded in nearby villages. These hyper-saturated, abstracted compositions appear to be a meditative attempt at drowning out the surrounding din. What better way to honor the sanctity of life than to immerse yourself in it, and Monet's painting here was a direct response to that very human need to reconcile the coexistance of beauty and destruction.

The present work was one of two major canvases by Monet exhibited at the New York Botanical Gardens earlier this year in conjunction with a major floral recreation of Monet's garden at Giverny. This picture was selected by Paul Hayes Tucker to exemplify Monet's late career.