A collector spends US$73.6m on two Monet's paintings at Christie's London evening sale

On 28 June, Christie's kick-started the London Marquee Week with the 20th/21st century evening sale. Two works by Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume and Nymphéas, temps gris, tied for the top spot – both sold for £30.05 million (US$36.8 million) to the same buyer with paddle number 907.

Amongst 61 lots offered, 6 were unsold – which achieved a sale rate of 90 per cent and a sale total of £180 million (US$250 million) with fees. The total hammer price came to £153 million, surpassing the low end of the pre-sale estimate by £20 million. 

22 lots were backed by a guarantee ahead of the sale to ensure it would sell – including the top three lots. In the end, all three works elicited active biddings across the saleroom, selling above the third-party guaranteed price.

Monet's Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume was hammered down at £26 million

Lot 34 | Claude Monet | Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume, Oil on canvas
Created in 1899-1904
65.2 x 100.7 cm
Provenance (Amended by The Value):

  • Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 30 October 1905
  • Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York, by whom acquired from the above in November 1905
  • Mrs A. Stern, by whom acquired from the above on 23 December 1905
  • Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 3 April 1919
  • Adolph Lewisohn, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 10 June 1919, and thence by descent; his estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 16 May 1939, lot 261
  • M. Knoedler & Co., New York (no. A2155), by whom acquired at the above sale
  • D.P. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, by whom acquired from the above on 16 May 1941
  • M. Knoedler & Co., New York (no. A4041), by whom acquired from the above on 14 December 1948
  • Arde Bulova, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 3 June 1951 and thence by descent
  • Property from the estate of Paul Bulova Guilden

Estimate: £22,000,000 – 32,000,000
Hammer Price: £26,000,000
Sold: £30,059,000 (around US$36.8 million)

Portraying the Thames through a sunlit haze, Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume is from Monet’s celebrated series known as the Vues du Londres (Views of London). The auctioneer, Jussi Pylkkänen, started the bidding at £14 million. In steady US£2 million increments, the hammer was dropped at £26 million and fetched £30.05 million (US$36.8 million) after fees, going to the telephone bidder with paddle number 907.  

Last year at Christie’s New York, another Waterloo Bridge, effet de brouillard of the same size garnered US$48.4 million. While last May, Le Parlement, soleil couchant set a record for the Vues du Londres (Views of London) series at US$75.9 million, again at Christie’s New York.

Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume sold to telephone bidder with paddle number 907

The landmark series started in 1899, when Monet was captivated by the unique fog-cloaked vistas of London. He then visited the city twice in 1900 and 1901 to produce almost a hundred of canvases focusing on the play of light across the Thames through three principal subjects – Charing Cross Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and Waterloo Bridge.

Comprising 41 views, each subtly different from the next, 26 of the Waterloo Bridge paintings are now held in renowned museum collections across the world – including Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo – leaving only 15 in private hands.

Claude Monet's particularly fond of the fog-cloaked vistas of London

London’s weather condition is notoriously capricious – the slightest breath of wind over the river could modify the scene in a matter of seconds, causing a shift in the density of the mist or fog. As a result, Monet had to work on multiple canvases at a time, moving from painting to painting to record the landscape that transformed before his eyes.

In a letter to his second wife Alice, he revealed how challenging the painting process was: ‘Today was a day of terrible struggle, and it will be the same until the day I leave. I needed more canvases, as the only way of achieving something is to start new ones for [the different] kinds of weather.’

The Waterloo Bridge accross the Thames

Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume, portraying the Thames through a sunlit haze

In Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume Monet captures an early morning view, where the entire scenery is enveloped in a soft layer of mist. Under the beaming light of the rising sun, the river drifted gentle ripples, sparkling a golden yellow amidst the delicately-hued soft lilacs and powdery blues – altogether the Thames becomes poetic and ethereal.

Completed in 1904, Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume was first purchased by the French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in the following year. Changing hands for several times, it was eventually purchased by Arde Bulova, chairman of the US watch company Bulova in 1951 and passed down through the family. For the past ten years, the work has been on loan to Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland.

Waterloo Bridge, effet de brouillard | sold for US$48.4 million in May 2021 at Christie's New York

Le Parlement, soleil couchant | sold for US$75.9 million in May 2022 at Christie's New York

Lot 38 | Claude Monet | Nymphéas, temps gris, Oil on canvas
Created in 1907
100.2 x 73.2 cm

  • Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist in July 1923
  • Henri Canonne, Paris, by whom acquired from the above on 21 January 1924
  • Anonymous sale, Palais Galliéra, Paris, 8 December 1961, lot 68
  • Fritz & Peter Nathan, Zurich, by whom acquired at the above sale
  • Acquavella Galleries, New York, by whom acquired from the above, circa 1962-1963
  • Private Collection, New York & Paris, by whom acquired from the above, circa 1968
  • Private Collection, New York & Paris, by 1971
  • Onassis Family, Paris, circa 1974, and thence by descent; sale, Christie’s, New York, 2 May 2006, lot 11
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: £20,000,000 – 30,000,000 
Hammer Price: £26,000,000
Sold: £30,059,000 (US$36.8 million)

The present lot was acquired by the same buyer of Waterloo Bridge, effet de brume. Started at £15 million, it attracted at least three interested bidders on the telephone. A total of 17 bids propelled the artwork to the hammer price of £26 million. After fees, it was also sold for £30.05 million (US$36.8 million).

Nymphéas, temps gris last went under the hammer in 2006, when it was sold for US$11.2 million. The result last night was an over threefold increase in 16 years.

Nymphéas, temps gris also sold to the client with paddle number 907

The peak of a lifetime’s study of nature, Monet’s Nymphéas (Water Lillies) series are among the most important works of not only the artist’s oeuvre, but of the Impressionist era. 

Painted in 1907, Nymphéas, temps gris is one of a small series where Monet employed a vertical format to depict the famed lily pond at his garden in Giverny, northern France. Of the 15 vertical Nymphéas of 1907, eight are now held in museum collections including the Artizon Museum, Tokyo and Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. 

Water Lily Pond (1907) | The Artizon Museum, Tokyo

Water Lilies (1907) | Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

In the 1890s, Monet moved to rural Giverny with his family and purchased a land near his property, intending to build something ‘for the pleasure of the eye and also for the purpose of having subjects to paint.’

The result was the now world-renowned ‘Giverny Garden’. He tore the existing kitchen garden up and began cultivating his own garden, adding a Japanese-style footbridge and a free-form pond. Around the pond was filled with weeping willows, iris, trees and other seasonal flowers.

Today's ‘Giverny Garden’

During the last 30 years of Monet's life, the artist immersed himself in his horticultural oasis to draw the water landscapes. These works replaced the varied contemporary subjects he had painted in his early artistic career with two celebrated subjects: Japanese bridge and water lilies.

In more than 250 canvases, Monet captured the changing images of the water lilies and their reflections on the pond at all hours of morning, day and evening. While the early paintings in the series encompass a larger scenery including the plants, bridge and the horizon, he gradually moved his focus closer to the surface of the water, experimenting with the transitory effects of sunlight on it.

In this Nymphéas, temps gris, Monet chooses to depict the mirror of water under a late afternoon light. With a vertical format, the Impressionist Master skilfully portrays both the reflections of light on the surface of his beloved pond, and the changing hues in its depths.

Lot 31 | Yves Klein | Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue, (ANT 124) (Anthropometry of the Blue Period), (ANT 124)), Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper laid down on canvas
Created in 1960
154.5 x 317 cm

  • Werner and Anita Ruhnau Collection, Essen
  • Galerie Denise Rene´ Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf
  • Private Collection, Dusseldorf
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate on request (expected to fetch £24 million in the region)
Hammer Price: £23,500,000
Sold: £27,197,000 (US$33.3 million)

Coming to the auction block for the first time, Yves Klein's Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue, (ANT 124) was the third most expensive lot of the sale.

The lot opened at £17 million. With 9 bids, it achieved a hammer price of £23.5 million and garnered £27.1 million (US$33.3 million) with fees – exceeding the pre-sale expection by the auction house.

Measuring 154.5 by 317cm, the present lot is one of a handful of large-scale works from Yves Klein's Anthropométries series to remain in private hands. His Anthropométries painting was last seen at auction two years ago, when Untitled Anthropometry (ANT 132), measuring 150 by 96 cm – much smaller than the present lot, was sold for £6.7 million (around US$8.2 million) at Sotheby’s London.

Yves Klein is known for his International Klein Blue (IKB)

Untitled Anthropometry (ANT 132), sold for £6.7 million at Sotheby’s London

Yves Klein is a leading figure in the European Post-War art world, pioneering in the development of performance art as well as minimal art and pop art. His Anthropométries series – named after the study of sizes and proportions in physiology – began with his invention of a deep blue hue which he patented and named International Klein Blue (IKB).

In his early twenties, Klein began drawing monochrome paintings with all kinds of shades. In 1955, he planned to present an orange monochrome painting for a grand exhibition in Paris. To his surprise, the organizers turned him down, saying a single color is not enough to constitute a painting. 

Klein, however, continued undeterred. He developed a new blue formula that included ultramarine, from which he created a series of blue monochrome paintings. The color was met with widespread acclaim and has made profound impact on not only the art world, but also the fashion industry up to the present. 

Klein covered the female model with IKB paint

How the imprints on the painting were made

In these Anthropométries paintings, the artist abandoned the traditional approach of paint application, and instead invited naked female models as “living paintbrushes” to imprint his IKB paint onto paper or canvases.

Painted in 1960, Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue, (ANT 124) represents an early instance of this newly-discovered technique. Just weeks after the present painting was created, Klein staged a revolutionary performance of the same title at the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris, where he was to create these paintings in front of a live audience.

Other Highlight Lots:

Lot 40 | René Magritte | Souvenir de voyage, Oil on canvas
Created circa 1962-1963
41.1 x 33.3 cm

  • René Gérain, Brussels, by whom acquired directly from the artist
  • Private Collection, Europe, by whom acquired from the above; sale, Sotheby’s, London, 8 February 2012, lot 18
  • Private Collection, United Kingdom, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Sotheby’s, London, 1 March 2017, lot 50
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: £5,000,000 - 7,000,000
Hammer Price: £13,800,000
Sold: £16,090,500 (US$19.7 million)

Lot 30 | Jeff Koons | Balloon Monkey (Magenta), Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent colour coating
Created in 2006-2013

  • Gagosian Gallery, New York
  • Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Estimate: £6,000,000 - 10,000,000
Hammer Price: £8,600,000
Sold: £10,136,500 (US$12.4 million)

Lot 37 | Jean-Michel Basquiat | Untitled (Self Portrait), Oilstick and ink on paper
Created in 1982
75.9 x 55.9 cm

  • Annina Nosei Gallery, New York
  • Private Collection, Europe
  • Anon. sale, Christie’s New York, 17 November 1999, lot 204
  • Private Collection, Europe
  • Anon. sale, Sotheby’s London, 26 June 2018, lot 3
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: £4,000,000 - 6,000,000
Hammer Price: £6,700,000
Sold: £7,961,000 (US$9.7 million)

Lot 33 | Barbara Hepworth | Hollow Form with White Interior, Nigerian guarea wood with white paint
Created in 1963
98 x 81 x 43.2 cm 

  • Gimpel Fils, London, by whom acquired directly from the artist in July 1969, and thence by descent
  • Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London, by whom acquired from the above in 2003
  • Private Collection, London, by whom acquired from the above in 2004
  • Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in March 2012

Estimate: £4,000,000 - 6,000,000
Hammer Price: £4,800,000
Sold: £5,785,500 (US$7.09 million)

Lot 57 | Alexander Calder | Red, White, and Blacks, Hanging mobile-sheet metal, wire and paint
Created in 1957
109.2 x 205.7 x 27.9cm
Provenance (Amended by The Value):

  • Perls Galleries, New York
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1961
  • From the David and Laura Finn collection

Estimate: £1,800,000 - 2,500,000
Hammer Price: £2,600,000
Sold: £3,162,000 (around US$3.8 million)

Lot 44 | Pablo Picasso | Femme s'essuyant les pieds (Françoise), Oil and sgraffito on canvas
Created in Vallauris on 30 March 1953
46 x 33 cm

  • Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris (no. 05074)
  • Morton G. Neumann, Chicago, by whom acquired from the above, and thence by descent; their sale, Sotheby's, New York, 17 November 1998, lot 116
  • Private Collection, New York, by whom acquired at the above sale
  • Acquavella Galleries, New York, by whom acquired from the above
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in May 2011

Estimate: £1,500,000 - 2,500,000
Hammer Price: £1,650,000
Sold: £2,022,000 (around US$2.4 million)

Lot 45 | Ernie Barnes | Main Street Pool Hall, Oil on canvas
Created in 1978
60.3 x 121.9 cm
Provenance (Amended by The Value):

  • Acquired directly from the artist by the late owners
  • From the collection of Danny and Donna Arnold

Estimate: £80,000 - 120,000
Hammer Price: £1,200,000
Sold: £1,482,000 (US$1.8 million)

Lot 21 | Simone Leigh | Untitled V (Anatomy of Architecture series), Terracotta, porcelain, manganese, 14k gold luster, raffia, india ink and epoxy
Created in 2016
63.5 x 52.1 x 48.3 cm

  • Jack Tilton Gallery, New York.
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2016.

Estimate: £300,000 - 500,000
Hammer Price: £575,000
Sold: £724,500 (US$888,962)

Lot 25 | Anna Weyant | Ingrid With Flowers, Oil on canvas
Created in 2020
101.6 x 76.2 cm

  • Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles.
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Estimate: £150,000 - 200,000
Hammer Price: £320,000
Sold: £403,200 (US$494,726)

Lot 26|Lucy Bull | No More Blue Tomorrows, Oil on linen
Created in 2018
106.7 x 106.7 cm

  • Smart Objects, Los Angeles.
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Estimate: £60,000 - 80,000
Hammer Price: £220,000
Sold: £277,200 (US$340,124)

Auction Details:
Auction House: Christie's London
Sale: 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale
Date: 28 June 2022
Number of lots: 61
Sold: 55
Unsold: 6
Sale Rate: 90%
Sale Total: £180,973,400 (around US$220 million)