Sotheby’s will bring to auction a late masterpiece by the artist,‘Coin du bassin aux nymphéas’ from 1918, which comes to the market for the first time in nearly 25 years. The price is estimated to achieve in excess of $40m.
Monet’s large, color-drenched canvas characteristically paves the way towards 20th-century abstraction, providing a critical bridge between the various components of the sale, which ranges from Alfred Sisley to Alexander Calder to Lee Krasner.
The famed lily pond at Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny provided the subject matter for the artist’s most celebrated canvases in his late career. The theme of waterlilies, which became not only Monet’s most celebrated series of paintings, but one of the most iconic images of the Impressionist movement, dominated the artist’s work over several decades, recording the changes in his style and his constant pictorial innovations. The painting is a powerful testament to Monet’s enduring vision and creativity in his mature years, and this work, along with the related canvases in the series, led to the celebrated ‘Grandes Décorations’ now in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.
In ‘Coin du bassin aux nymphéas’, Monet juxtaposes the waterlilies ﬂoating on the lilypond’s surface with the reflections of the trees above. Together with the long fronds of the water grasses, the tendrils of weeping willow and boughs of rambling roses lend a truly dynamic sense of motion to the composition. This sense of motion, which Monet developed over many decades, aided in his work having an increasingly abstract treatment of space and a greater focus on the effect of light and shadow, which uses the surface of the water to reflect the wealth of color around it and blurring the boundary between the real and the refracted. By obscuring the horizon line, Monet virtually eliminates traditional perspective and instead builds an abbreviated sense of depth through the contrasting patterns and gestural brushwork in the foliage. The richly worked surface becomes a kaleidoscopic tapestry of color and light built upon the contrasts of the sinewy leaves and rounded blossoms.