Monet's 'Water Lily' Painting To Fetch $65 Million In Auction

A large-scale water lily painting by French painter Oscar-Claude Monet, which the public has never seen before, may fetch $65 million in an upcoming November auction. 

French painter Oscar-Claude Monet is one of the greatest impressionist artists to have ever lived. Most people are familiar with his pastel-hued paintings of pastoral landscapes and waterscapes. Many of which were based on the magnificent garden in his Giverny estate. 

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An 1899 photograph of artist Oscar-Claude Monet
An 1899 photograph of artist Oscar-Claude Monet/Photo by Nadar via Wikimedia Commons

Given his status as a master artist, it’s no surprise that these works have fetched large sums of money. In 2018, Christie’s sold his painting “Nymphéas en fleur (1914–1917)” for $84.7 million. The famous piece came from the collection of none other than Peggy and David Rockefeller. Then in 2019, Monet’s “Meules (Haystacks)” broke an auction record for the artist when it sold for $110.7 million. 

Monet’s “Meules (Haystacks)” which broke records when it sold for $110.7 million in 2019
Monet’s “Meules (Haystacks)” which broke records when it sold for $110.7 million in 2019/Photo from the Christie’s website

This year, another painting will be joining the list of valuable Monet auction works. This is “Le bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1919), which experts believe may fetch $65 million in Christie’s 20th Century evening sale, as per ArtNews. The sale will be taking place in New York this November, and the painting will sell with guarantee. 

What makes the piece such a special one is its overall rarity and immaculate condition. 

A Vibrant Mural

“Le bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1919)” is an oil on canvas painting that measures two meters wide and one meter high. Monet painted similar scenes from his garden around 250 times throughout his career. However, this painting is one of only 14 special works with a long, mural format and “compositionally connected” elements as per Christie’s

Monet's “Le bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1919)," which may sell for $65 million in Christie's upcoming sale
Monet’s “Le bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1919),” which may sell for $65 million in Christie’s upcoming sale/Photo from the Christie’s website

“These grand, monumental depictions were filled with gestural, vigorous bolts of color that coalesce to form the watery landscape, the vibrancy and gestural quality of the brushwork revealing the impressive energy that lay behind the artist’s paintings, even at this late stage of his career,” described the auction house in an official press release on the piece. This is more astounding considering Monet’s deteriorating eyesight due to cataracts in the latter years of his life and career. 

According to Paul Hayes Tucker, the curator of a number of exhibitions on the French master, this collection of elongated paintings have a “‘a physical and emotional expansiveness’ that the artist’s previous water-lily paintings lacked.

Well-Kept Florals

The public has also never seen the particular painting that Christie’s will be featuring in its upcoming sale.

“Which also means it is in great condition,” shared Max Carter, the auction house’s vice chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, with The Financial Times. Prior to going under the hammer in November, Christie’s will also be exhibiting the work for the very first time. This will take place in Hong Kong on October 4.  

The $84.7 million “Nymphéas en fleur (1914–1917)” was the last water lily painting of this scale and quality sold in auction
The $84.7 million “Nymphéas en fleur (1914–1917)” was the last water lily painting of this scale and quality sold in auction/Photo from the Christie’s website

“With Monet, seemingly everything has already been seen or said. ‘Le bassin aux nymphéas,’ which has never been exhibited or offered at auction, is, however, that rarest thing: A masterpiece rediscovered,” stated Carter in a press release. “Thickly worked, impeccably preserved and hidden away in the same private collection since 1972, Le bassin aux nymphéas remains as astonishing today as it was 100 years ago.”

Banner photo from the Christie’s website.

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