Christie’s recently announced that Claude Monet’s Champ d’avoine et de coquelicots, (estimate: $12 million – 18 million) will highlight the 20th Century Evening Sale during the Spring Marquee Week of sales.
The 1890 masterwork comes to Christie’s from an Important Private French Collection along with two wonderful examples from the late 19th century offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale: Alfred Sisley’s Femme et enfant Sur le chemin des près, Sèvres (estimate: $400,000 – 600,000) and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot’s Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay) (estimate: $200,000 – 300,000).
The group of three paintings is incredibly fresh to the market, having been held in the same private family collection for decades, and in the case of the Monet, for over a century.
Together these three works chart the development of Impressionism. Often regarded as the progenitor of this movement, Corot was an important influence on the young generation of artists who wanted to depict the world around them with a novel spontaneity and directness. Around a decade after Corot painted Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay), Impressionism as a movement had been founded.
Sisley’s portrayal of a quiet, sunlit rural road is the epitome of the new form of landscape painting that these artists pioneered. Like his Impressionist friends, Monet had long been dedicated to the portrayal of the passing effects of light and atmosphere on the landscape. At the beginning of the 1890s, he took this interest a step further when he began to work predominantly in series, painting the same scene multiple times, each canvas rendered with varying palettes depending on the time of day and weather effects.
Champ d’avoine et de coquelicots is a brilliant example of this practice, demonstrating how Monet transformed the beautiful countryside of his beloved Giverny into symphonic harmonies of color and light. Capturing the abundantly flowering poppy field, this is one of a series of five works, each of which depicts this dazzling rural spectacle.
Antoine Lebouteiller, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art Department, Paris remarks, “We are so pleased to offer Champ d’avoine et de coquelicots in our 20th Century Evening sale this Spring. This painting is a true masterpiece that brings to life the critical development of Monet’s seminal serial method during this all-important period in his practice.
Painted near the artist’s Giverny home, the canvas features a lush field of impastoed color in jewel-like tones of red, orange, and emerald green juxtaposed with soft lilac hues in the distance, beautifully capturing the ephemeral effects of light and atmospheric conditions. It is an honor to steward this painting alongside two works from the same collection by 19th-century masters, Sisley and Corot.
These three works, which have been hidden away in a private collection for over half a century, together showcase the artistic tenets that lay at the heart of Impressionism.”
Monet settled in Giverny in 1883. Over the following years, he came to know the landscape intimately in a way that made possible the extended serial treatment that underscores his later artistic production. After a number of painting campaigns around France and further afield in the late 1880s, in the summer of 1890, Monet became entirely engrossed by Giverny. He pictured surroundings in their most abundant, elemental form, emphasizing the agrarian nature of the land.
In this way, he reacquainted himself with the pastoral beauty of Giverny while further establishing his legacy as the key artist of rural France. The approach that Monet employed in Champ d’avoine et de coquelicots and the accompanying works created throughout the autumn of 1890 would mark the start of a decade that is defined by the artist’s highly celebrated series, including the Meules and Peupliers.
Monet’s Champ d’avoine et de coquelicots was originally acquired by the legendary art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel directly from Monet in May of 1891, one year after its creation. In 1914, it was acquired by a private collector; the painting has remained in the family’s collection until the present day.
JEAN-BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT (1796-1875)
Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay)
signed ‘COROT’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
15 x 22 in. (38.1 x 55.8 cm.)
Painted in 1865-1870
ALFRED SISLEY (1839-1899)
Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres
signed ‘Sisley’ (lower right) oil on canvas
14⅞ x 21⅞ in. (37.7 x 55.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1879
Sisley’s Femme et enfant sur le chemin des près, Sèvres pictures a charming scene of a woman and child walking along a humble pathway within the larger context of a wonderfully rendered rich landscape of greenery and sky. The works display a remarkable variation in texture—from spontaneous strokes of blue to affect the color of the sky, to the thick layers of paint that articulate the natural foliage.
This highly prized painting has remained in the same private collection for nearly 60 years; this spring will be the first time it will appear at auction.
Corot’s Le gros arbre (environs de Gournay) is an exquisite example of the master at the height of his powers. Corot perfectly captures a moment in time, creating a depth of landscape by the placement of the seated girl and cow in the foreground, the gnarled tree defining the middle ground, and the rock formation, architectural elements, and hills beyond forming the background.
These features all serve to draw the eye of the viewer gently through the painting; the result is a visually delightful depiction of a picturesque summer day in the French countryside.