$40 Million Monet – One of the Artist's Finest Large-Scale 'Water Lilies' Paintings – to Star at Sotheby's New York this May
Sotheby’s to Offer One of the Finest Large-Scale Water Lilies Paintings by Claude Monet Ever to Appear at Auction
Among the Most Famous Subjects in Art History, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas was Painted in 1917-19 at Monet’s Home in Giverny and was Conceived as Part of the Artist’s Celebrated Grandes Décorations Series
NEW YORK, 18 April 2021 – One of Claude Monet’s finest large-scale Water Lilies paintings ever to appear at auction will star in Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 12 May in New York. Estimated in the region of $40 million, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas stands among the most iconic and celebrated Impressionist images.
Measuring nearly 40 by 79 inches, this enrapturing canvas from 1917-19 was conceived as part of the artist’s legendary series of monumental paintings depicting his water lily pond at Giverny, the Grandes Décorations, which he began in 1914 and examples of which can be found today in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The series took Monet’s paintings of the tranquil lily pond in a radical new direction and were twice the size of his earlier Water Lilies.
Ground-breaking in their nearly abstract treatment of the pond water’s surface and its reflections, these late works are recognized as an important bridge between Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, as practised by Abstract Expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, several generations later.
With exceptional provenance, including the collection of famed Hollywood and Broadway producer, Ray Stark and his wife Fran, this masterwork will go on view in Taipei beginning 26 April before returning to our York Avenue galleries for exhibition by appointment beginning 1 May.
Julian Dawes, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, commented: “Claude Monet is among the most well-known and beloved artists of all time, and Le Bassin aux Nymphéas represents a quintessential example from his celebrated and famed Water Lilies series. Sotheby’s has an exceptional history as the house for Monet, including holding the artist’s record at auction from our sale of Meules in 2019 for $110 million, and we are extremely excited to bring such an illustrious picture to market for the first time in nearly two decades. As a remarkable example of Monet’s late period works from his cherished home at Giverny, this monumental painting beautifully encapsulates how Monet’s oeuvre evolved over time from his Impressionist breakthroughs to a more abstract focus with his preoccupation of his pond and water lilies. From this perspective, this work opens a whole new window onto how Monet would influence later generations of artists who expanded on his radical concepts into full abstraction, and set the stage for a new artistic movement that would take the world by storm. After remaining largely absent from the very top end of the market in 2020, we are thrilled to see Monet take center stage once again through this exceptional painting in our May Evening Sale.”
Helena Newman, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department, said: “We’re very excited to be announcing this spectacular work in the context of this sale week in Asia, and at a time when there is a major exhibition of Monet and Impressionist Masterpieces in Shanghai, showing loans from the Musée Marmottan in Paris. This is all evidence of the enormous interest Monet has always held for audiences in Asia. Opportunities to acquire paintings by Monet of this importance are rare indeed – this is one of the first large-scale Nymphéas to appear on the market in a number of years.”
LE BASSIN AUX NYMPHÉAS
The water lily pond was the defining motif of the last two-and-a-half decades of Monet’s life and stands among the most iconic and celebrated of all Impressionist paintings. The profound impact the series has made on the evolution of Modern Art renders them Monet’s greatest achievement. The famous lily pond in his garden at Giverny provided the subject matter for most of the artist’s major late works, recording the changes in his style and constant pictorial innovations.
How this beautiful and visually dynamic subject came to be the focus of Monet's artistic output can be traced back to 1883, when the artist moved to Giverny where he rented a house with a large garden. Thanks to his ever-increasing financial success, Monet was able to buy the property in the early 1890s and eventually purchased a large adjacent plot of land. It was here in 1893 that, with enormous vigour and determination, Monet swiftly set about transforming the gardens and creating a large pond. There were initially a number of complaints about his plans to divert the river Epte through his garden in order to feed his new pond, which he had to address in his application to the Préfet of the Eure department.
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