Sotheby's - November 5th, 2012 - Lot 25

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The House among Roses, Claude Monet 1925.


Sotheby's New York USA

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

05 November 2012, 07:00 PM

LOT 25

ESTIMATE 2,500,000-3,500,000 USD



Oil on canvas 35 by 39 ¼ in. 89 by 100 cm Painted in 1925.


Michel Monet

Sale: Sotheby’s London, June 28, 1972, lot 28

J.S. Lewis (acquired at the above sale)

Daniel Maggin (circa 1975)


Private Collection, Japan

Galerie Beck & Eggeling, Düsseldorf

Acquired from the above in September 2006


Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, Hokkaido, Magasin Seibu & Osaka, Magasin Seibu, Cl. Monet, Chemin vers les nymphéas,1981, no. 6

Tokyo, Musée national d’Art occidental & Kyoto, Musée national d’Art moderne, Monet, 1982, no. 70


Claire Joyes, Robert Gordon, Jean-Marie Toulgouat, & Andrew Forge, Monet at Giverny,London, 1975, illustrated p. 127

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, vie et oeuvre, vol. IV, Lausanne, 1985, no. 1953, illustrated p. 313 and in color p. 131; discussed in letters 2609-11

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, vie et oeuvre, vol. V, Lausanne, 1991, no. 1953, discussed p. 113 in D 364

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet Catalogue raisonné, vol. IV, Cologne, 1996, no. 1953, illustrated in color in the catalogue p. 938

Catalogue Note

After the turn of the century, the gardens around Monet's Giverny home became the central theme of the artist's work. As the recent exhibition at the New York Botanical Gardens makes clear, the artist paid exacting attention to the details of the garden, including maintaining the pond and plants in a perfect state for painting. Elizabeth Murray described the artist’s meticulous attention to his garden and its overall aesthetic impact. “The water gardener would row out in the pond in a small green flat-bottomed boat to clean the entire surface. Any moss, algae, or water grasses which grew from the bottom had to be pulled out. Monet insisted on clarity. Next the gardener would inspect the water lilies themselves. Any yellow leaves or spent blossoms were removed. If the plants had become dusty from vehicles passing by on the Chemin du Roy, the dirt road nearby, the gardener would take a bucket of water and rinse off the leaves and flowers, ensuring that the true colors and beauty would shine forth” (Elizabeth Murray, ‘Monet as a Garden Artist,’ Monet, Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musée Marmottan, New Orleans, 1995, p. 53).

In the catalogue raisonné, Daniel Wildenstein provided the following description for the present painting: "In the second series of Houses (nos. 1953 to 1958), Monet’s residence is seen as a front view – the windows framed by the Virginia creeper, the roof in violet-grey to convey the blue of the slates – standing between two banks of rosebushes, at the foot of which stand clumps of irises. The relative precision of the foreground objects and the perfect composition can be explained by a significant improvement in the artist’s eyesight, evidence of which is found in the letters he wrote in the summer of 1925. These are the paintings to which Paul Valéry refers when writing that same evening about his visit to Giverny on 7 September, 1925: 'He showed us his latest paintings. Strange clumps of roses captured under a blue sky. A dark house.' A preparatory drawing exists for this series, which is kept in the Musée Marmottan, no. 512" (Daniel Wildenstein, op. cit.).

On the late summer afternoons when his studio became unbearably hot, Monet would move his easel outdoors and into these lush surroundings at Giverny. Among his favorite motifs were the resplendent roses that adorned his property. Painted the year before his death, the present work demonstrates the richness of this subject and his unyielding interest in his garden during his final months (fig. 2). While each canvas during his late years was conceived as an individual work, the decorative impact of the the present work was influenced by Monet's Grandes Décorations project that he was working on during these years. In some canvases, Monet would stay true to the colors of the actual scene, rendering flecks of white, green and picks that arched over the pathway to his house. In others, he did little to differentiate the flora and their supporting armature, and his color choices were surprisingly incongruous.

The present picture was painted as Monet worked on the Grandes Décorations, the two rooms of large scale paintings of the water lily pond. In this large scale, Monet has moved further away from a realistic depiction of the lily pond as the viewer is brought closer to the surface of the pond, seemingly hovering above the shifting colors of the pond's reflections. Monet's palette is more vibrant than in his earlier floral compositions, and the handling is decidedly more loose and fluid, with flowers indicated by bold strokes of paint. Distinct from his earlier, pre-1910 depictions of his garden at Giverny, these later compositions are remarkably daring. The brushstrokes are heavily laden and equally applied across the surface of the canvas. This painterly technique brings the eye to the surface of the canvas and contends with the illusions of a receding space and a differentiation between the physical properties of the water, foliage and structure.