Star Lot from Rockefeller Collection: Monet’s Nymphéas en feur

The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller will be presented at Christie’s in May, offering over 1500 exquisite pieces from the Estate of David Rockefeller. Kicking off 'The Sale of the Century' will be 19th and 20th Century Art Evening Sale, led by three star lots: Claude Monet’s Nymphéas en fleur, Pablo Picasso’s Fillette à la corbeille fleurie and Henri Matisee’s Odalisque couchée aux magnolias.

Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art, introduces these highlights. Let’s us first take a look at Claude Monet’s Nymphéas en fleur.

Claude Monet (1840-1926). Nymphéas en feur.

Lot no.: 10
Painted circa 1914-1917
Size: 160.3 x 180 cm
Estimate: US$35m

Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie's

Jordan: The painting behind me is by Claude Monet. It’s a painting of water lilies. Claude Monet was among the foremost figures in the Impressionist Movement in the late 19th century in France. In the early part of his career, he concentrated his attention on Parisian subject, on modern life subject. Then later in his career, he found some financial success. He bought a property in Giverny, north of Paris, where he created in there a wonderful Japanese garden. For the remaining decades of his career, he concentrated on painting the natural lives around his garden.

Monet’s house in Giverny

Q: When was this painting created?

Jordan: The painting was executed around the time of the First World War, around 1914 to 1917. At this stage, Monet had been depicting the water lily pond for a number of years. Then he painted on a larger scale. He was more ambitious in the scale of a painting.

The Japanese garden in Monent's house

Jordan (continues): He concentrated all his attention on his garden, and in particular, the lily pond. Watching the light effect, which had always been a concern throughout his career, as well as the impressionist’s idea of capturing the moment. Finding the different effect of light, atmosphere as it reflected on the surface of water. The temporary things of all, it’s there for a minute and gone the next.

Q: What’s so special about this painting?

Jordan: So what we have here is the deep blue of the water and the green reflection of the weeping willows, which he planted around the pond. On the top of it, what gives the painting’s name, are the water lilies themselves. You have the water lily pads and several flowers. The bloom suggests it was mid-summer in Northern France. These paintings from this time are marked by a vigorous way of laying the paint.

Jordan (continues): And there are several paint layers. The brush is heavily loaded with pigments, giving the strong purple and blue effect. Each work from the series of sixty paintings has a different character. But what really marks this picture out is vigorousness of it and its colouration.

Q: When did the Rockefellers acquire this painting?

Jordan: Interestingly, it was bought by David and Peggy Rockefeller in 1956 from a dealer in Paris. At that time, this type of painting was not considered important in Monet’s career. People were focusing on the early pictures in 1860 and 1870. So that was a daring purchase by the Rockefellers.

Peggy and David Rockefeller

Please stay tuned for the introduction of the other two star lots, Pablo Picasso’s Fillette à la corbeille fleurie and Henri Matisee’s Odalisque couchée aux magnolias.

Auction details
Auction house: Christie’s New York
Sale: 19th and 20th Century Art Evening Sale
Sale date: 8/5/2018|7pm