Christie’s has announced that it has one of the series of 14 Nymphéas works that were among Claude Monet’s last paintings on offer in November. On offer with an estimate of $30 to $50m, the last time one of the works in this series was sold, in 2008, it made a record $80m when Andrey Melnichenko bought it. The Monet market has risen considerably since then.
Christie’s puts these works into some art historical context on their website:
By the turn of the 20th century, the pond became the almost-exclusive subject of Monet’s art, inspiring an outpouring of creativity that, for many, marks the summit of his career. A 1909 exhibition of 48 of his water-lily paintings, at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, left art critics purring at how close to abstraction they looked. ‘His vision is increasingly limiting itself to the minimum of tangible realities, in order… to magnify the impression of the imponderable,’ wrote Jean Morgan in daily newspaper, Le Gaulois.
Monet wasn’t an artist to rest on his laurels or repeat past successes, however, and in 1918 he ordered a set of 20 large canvases in elongated, horizontal format (roughly a metre high by more than two metres wide). He duly began work on a new, compositionally connected group of paintings, where lily pads are clustered towards the lateral edges and a burst of sunlight makes its way in a vertical band down the centre, before spilling out into a broad pool at the bottom.
His final works after these images were the massive murals now housed in Paris’s L’Orangerie.