Sotheby’s is announcing a Monet painting from the series of works the artist produced in Venice over a three month stay. Monet’s habit was to paint the same view multiple times with the works displaying the effects of weather and time of day to produce different color and mood schemes. The work on offer is, Le Palais Ducal from 1908, is one of three paintings of the same view.
This work is estimated at £20-30 million and will appear at auction for the very first time. It has been in the same family since it was acquired by Erich Goeritz in 1925. Goeritz was a Berlin-based textile manufacturer who was one of the most important Jewish collectors of the Weimar Republic.
This version of the Le Palais Ducal was exhibited as part of the Monet and Architecture show at the National Gallery in London earlier this year. It was shown in a room dedicated to the Venice series. That exhibition was first public appearance in almost four decades. It was shown alongside its counterpart from the Brooklyn Museum in New York which is the largest of the three works. The final version was owned by a prominent collecting family whose heirs recently sold. This version was not sold with the rest of the collection.
This version and the one still in private hands are remarkably similar in color, tone and light. Both are close to the hues of the Brooklyn Museum picture, something of a departure for Monet. Sotheby’s holds the auction record for a Venice painting by Monet: Le Grand Canal, which sold in London in February 2015 for £23.7 million. Here is their release for the picture:
Claude Monet arrived in Venice on 1 October 1908 – and, taken aback by the splendour of what he saw, the artist declared the city ‘too beautiful to paint’. Enchanted by the city, Monet painted just under forty canvases during the course of his three month stay, the greater part of which adorn the walls of museums across the globe. This spectacular painting depicts the historic Gothic façade of the Doge’s palace, and it belongs to a celebrated group of three works painted from the vantage of a boat moored along the canal, one of which is held in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
Le Palais Ducal has been in the same family collection since 1925, when it was acquired by Erich Goeritz, a Berlin-based textile manufacturer. Goeritz was a significant collector of Impressionist and Modern art, building an extensive collection that was both eclectic and forward-thinking, counting among its number celebrated works such as Édouard Manet’s Un bar aux Folies-Bergère, now in the Courtauld Insitute of Art, London. Philanthropic in his artistic endeavours, Goeritz gifted a substantial number of works to the newly founded Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 1933 and a few years later made his first donation to the British Museum. Almost a century later, this painting will now appear at auction for the first time, with an estimate of £20,000,000 – 30,000,000, as part of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 26 February 2018.
The painting was exhibited earlier this year – its first public appearance in almost four decades – alongside its counterpart from the Brooklyn Museum, in a room dedicated to the Venice series in the National Gallery in London’s acclaimed Monet and Architecture show, which toured through Monet’s ground-breaking depictions of the modern world in which he lived.
The composition is harmoniously divided between the palace’s brick exterior, and its reflection in the water. Monet animates the lagoon with wonderfully dappled brushstrokes whilst also bringing to life the façade of the building, which is softly diffused by light. The unique lacustrine quality of Venice and its architectural heritage allowed Monet to explore more abstract compositions, accentuating the interplay between the rhythms of the architecture and the expanse of water. In Venice, Monet turned to his artistic forbears JMW Turner and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, for both of whom the city had held a special importance. Turner presented a Venice transfigured by light, and viewing their poetic paintings side by side, Henri Matisse once remarked that ‘it seemed to [him] that Turner must have been the link between the academic tradition and impressionism’. Unapologetically modern in its outlook and in the way that it is painted, the work is not a topographical view so much as it is an evocation of atmosphere. Venice proved the perfect subject for Monet to explore his apotheosis of painting.