The Rockefeller sale earlier this week left the nagging feeling that Claude Monet’s Extérieur de la gare Saint-Lazare, effet de soleil might have performed better had it been sold outside of the single-owner sale. Even though the work made nearly $33m, there was a sense that the work didn’t get quite the attention it deserved. Now Christie’s announces it will have the rare second chance with another work from the series of 12 paintings on offer in London in June.
The Bass Family’s Monet is the second of the three works remaining in private hands and it has been estimated beginning at where the Rockefeller Monet sold. Officially, the estimate is available on request which gives the house some leeway in taking the market’s temperature. But the whisper number is £22-28m which suggests there is headroom for this work to outperform the Rockefeller picture when it comes to the block in June:
Claude Monet’s iconic La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure of 1877, will lead Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 20 June 2018. This magnificent painting, executed in 1877 as part of Monet’s celebrated Gare Saint-Lazare series will be offered for sale from ‘The Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass’ (Estimate on Request). Works from this esteemed collection were sold in New York in November 2017 where a highlight was Vincent van Gogh’s Laboureur dans un champ, which sold for $81,312,500, the second highest price achieved at auction for a work by the artist.
The present work, La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure, belongs to a series of twelve canvases painted in 1877 depicting the busy railway station which had been modernised and extended in the late 1860s. By 1870 the Gare Saint-Lazare was handling over 13 million passengers a year and had become a major transit point for the vibrant city. The modern age of steam trains, iron railway bridges and extensive public transport was perfectly captured in this remarkable series of Monet’s steam-filled, atmospheric impressionist masterpieces. Gare Saint-Lazare paintings are frequently shown in major retrospectives, are much reproduced, and are included in the permanent collection of many of the most celebrated museums in the world. Of the twelve Monet painted in 1877, three still remain in private hands and nine are in public institutions. These include: The Fogg Art Museum; The Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery, London; The Musée Marmattan, Paris; and The Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Two of these museum works are currently included in London’s National Gallery exhibition Monet & Architecture, a pioneering show that examines Monet’s career through the lens of the architecture that he painted. La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure was recently on loan to the Kimbel Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
The entire series, ‘Gare Saint-Lazare’, was created in a short period of intense creativity: in just three months between January and March 1877. The subject would turn out to be Monet’s last confrontation with modernity, before he abandoned the painting of modern life, and started to pursue pure landscape painting. While the works in the group differ in size, viewpoint and handling, the series marks the first occasion whereby the artist committed himself to the pursuit of a single subject through a long sequence of variations. This would come to be one of the defining aspects of Monet’s practice for the rest of his career. In April 1877, Monet included several of his recently painted Gare Saint-Lazare canvases in the Third Impressionist Exhibition.
The group depicts the station from a variety of different positions, at different times of day and in different atmospheric conditions. In La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure, Monet has moved outside the covered interior area of the Gare Saint-Lazare, into the midst of the platforms; the railway track weaving a dynamic, serpentine path through the foreground of the scene, as two trains move through the bustling station. One emerges from beneath the Pont de l’Europe made famous by Monet’s illustrious impressionist counterpart Gustave Caillebotte. Captured with a combination of loose, staccato brushstrokes, as well as areas of more refined architectural detail, steam, people, the surrounding architecture of the city, and the structure of this newly constructed beacon of modernity all come together in this vivid, rapidly executed scene of modern life. Architecture and atmosphere combine to create a painting that has become an icon of its time. Before he painted the present work, Monet had been living and working in Argenteuil, just outside of Paris. Having immersed himself in rural Montgeron in the summer of 1876, he returned to Paris in the new year, eager to capture the subjects and scenes of the bustling urban landscape of modern Paris. Caillebotte paid the rent for him to live in a small ground floor apartment near the Gare Saint-Lazare, and just three months later, the series of twelve works was complete.
Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President, Christie’s: “This superb painting describes Monet at his impressionist best, capturing in quick, bold brushstrokes the energy of metropolitan Paris as described by the sound and fury of the glorious steam trains as they left the Gare Saint Lazare on their journey’s northwards out of the city. Painted in situ from the platform of the station, several of these urban plein-air paintings served as the centrepieces of the important Third Impressionist Exhibition in April 1877. It is an honour to exhibit and offer for sale this magnificent painting from The Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, in whose collection it has hung for so many years. Only three works from this critically acclaimed series remain in private hands and it is a particular honour for Christie’s to handle the sales of two of these within a month of each other in London and New York.”