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Le givre à giverny
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About the item

Painted in 1885, Le Givre à Giverny depicts the hoar-frost covered trees at Giverny, a town on the outskirts of Paris that would become synonymous with the most innovative compositions of Monet's career. The artist moved with his family to Giverny in April 1883 and remained there for the rest of his life. The two silhouetted figures in the present work are the artist’s son and step-son Michel Monet and Jean-Pierre Hoschedé who are walking near the Ile de Orties in the village. The dynamic handling of paint represents Monet’s progression towards a more radicalised depiction of the natural world that would effectively establish him as a pillar of the avant-garde, as the dramatic interplay of light and shadow here transforms the landscape into a sensory montage of textures and colours.\n\nLe Givre à Giverny is one of Monet's first significant depictions of his new environs and belongs to an important series of oils that the artist completed in the beginning of 1885 (fig. 1). In those first years after settling in Giverny with his family, Monet spent many of his painting campaigns away from home, travelling to Italy and the south of France and later to Etretat in Normandy. 'One always needs a certain amount of time to get familiar with a new landscape',  Monet later explained, implying that his time away from Giverny allowed him to recalibrate his new objectives in landscape painting (quoted in Daniel Wildenstein, op. cit., 1996, vol. I, p. 192). By January 1885, he was ready to meet the challenges of his new environment, when a heavy snowstorm recast the region in colours of wintery blue, silver and grey. Before the ice and snow melted, Monet rushed to paint the wintery spectacle, producing nine oils including the present work (ibid., vol. II, nos. 961-968).\n\nThe subject of winter landscapes had fascinated Monet early in his career, and his first explorations of this theme can be found in his depictions of Honfleur in 1865 and 1867. Monet relished the challenge of painting the extraordinary effects of cold weather. Over the course of his career he chose to paint progressively more nuanced and ephemeral effects such as frost, tackling the subject previously in 1880 at Vétheuil (fig. 2). Léon Billot gave an early account of Monet painting en plein air in the snow, a vivid proof of the artist's dedication to capturing the effects of light on the frozen landscape: 'It was during winter, after several snowy days, when communications had almost been interrupted. The desire to see the countryside beneath its white shroud had led us across the fields. It was cold enough to split rocks. We glimpsed a little heater, then an easel, then a gentleman swathed in three overcoats, with gloved hands, his face half-frozen. It was M. Monet studying an aspect of the snow' (L. Billot, 'Exposition des Beaux-Arts', in Journal du Havre, 9th October 1868).\n\nThe preoccupation with snowy landscapes would extend to several of the Impressionist painters, including Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro, though Monet's effet de neige paintings are often viewed as the most successful examples of the theme. Writing about Monet's snow scenes, Eliza E. Rathbone observed: 'The Impressionists, and above all Monet, determined to record the complete spectrum: deep snow in brilliant sunshine, creating the bluest of blue shadows; snow under a low, grey winter sky that shrouds nature in a single tonality; landscapes so deep in snow that all details are obscured, evoking a silent world; even snow melting along a country road at sunset; or, perhaps most striking, a sky filled with snow falling. Of all the Impressionists, Monet painted the largest number of snowscapes and the greatest variety of site, time of day, quality of light, and quality of snow itself. He was not only interested in a relatively traditional conception of a snowy landscape, but he found beauty in unexpected phenomena of winter. He brought to his snowscapes his desire to experiment both with new technique and with formal invention' (E. E. Rathbone, 'Monet, Japonisme, and Effets de Neige', in Impressionists in Winter (exhibition catalogue), The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., 1998-99, p. 25).\n\nThe first recorded owner of the picture was Montague Shearman, a barrister with a keen appetite for Impressionist art. Over the course of his life he amassed a fine collection including major works by Pissarro, Sisley, Vuillard, Toulouse-Lautrec, and contemporary paintings by Matisse and Picasso. Introducing an exhibition of the collection held after Shearman’s death, St. John Hutchinson wrote about the present work: ‘Nearly one of Shearman’s last purchases is the really monumental Monet, not monumental in its size, but a real monument in being one of the most beautiful of all Monet’s pictures. Always a fine painter, Monet is often a bore, and it is in a picture such as this that his real genius is seen; the white scene is made up by the subtle harmonies of brilliant colours, and the two people, interrogation marks in black, achieve an inspired composition’ (St. J. Hutchinson in The Montague Shearman Collection of French and English Paintings (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 14).\nSigned Claude Monet (lower left)
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medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Claude Monet

condition

The canvas is unlined and the edges have been strip-lined. There are some tiny spots of retouching in the trees and the sky, and some retouching to the upper framing edge covering frame abrasion, visible under ultra-violet light. Apart from some very faint stretcher marks in the upper left and centre of the composition, and some slight craquelure in the upper left corner and in a small area in the trees, this work is in very good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although slightly fresher in the original. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

54 by 71cm.

exhibition

London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Cl. Monet, 1939, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Givre au Bois de Boulogne) London, The Redfern Gallery, The Montague Shearman Collection of French and English Paintings, 1940, no. 18 (titled Givre au Bois de Boulogne) London, National Gallery, 19th Century French Painting, 1942 St. Helier, Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, Barreau Art Gallery, Old Masters from Jersey Collections, 1952, no. 52 Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, How Impressionism Began, 1960, no. 44

literature

The Connoisseur: An Illustrated Magazine for Collectors, vol. 105, 1940, mentioned p. 224 (titled Givre au Bois de Boulogne) Jean-Pierre Hoschedé, Cl. Monet, ce mal connu, Geneva, 1960, vol. II, illustrated p. 129 (titled Givre à Giverny sur la Seine gelée en 1899) Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet, biographie et catalogue raisonné, Paris & Lausanne, 1979, vol. II, no. 963, illustrated p. 153 Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1996, vol. II, no. 963, illustrated p. 358

provenance

Arthur Tooth & Sons, London Montague Shearman, London & Swanage (acquired from the above on 6th May 1939) St. John Hutchinson, London (a gift from the above in 1940) Arthur Tooth & Sons, London The 9th Earl of Jersey, Jersey (acquired from the above on 14th July 1943) Thence by descent to the present owners

signedDate

Signed Claude Monet (lower left)

time_period

Painted in 1885.

consignmentDesignation

Property from the Collection of the Late Earl of Jersey

creator_nationality_dates

1840 - 1926


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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