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‘Monumental’ Monet Water Lilies canvas expected to fetch £29m at auction

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·2-min read

One of Claude Monet’s “monumental” Water Lilies paintings will go under the hammer in New York for an estimate in the region of 40 million dollars (£29 million).

Le Bassin aux Nympheas has been described by auction house Sotheby’s as “among the most iconic and celebrated Impressionist images”.

The 40in x 79in canvas, from 1917-19, is part of the famous Grandes Decorations series of paintings depicting Monet’s water lily pond at Giverny, which he began in 1914.

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The series was ground-breaking in its nearly abstract treatment of the pond water’s surface and its reflections, taking Monet’s paintings of the tranquil lily pond in a radical new direction, and the works were twice the size of his earlier Water Lilies.

The late works are considered an important bridge between Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, as practised several generations later by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

It will be part of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 12 and will go on view in Taipei on April 26 before returning to Sotheby’s New York galleries for exhibition by appointment from May 1.

Julian Dawes, co-head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art department in New York, said: “Claude Monet is among the most well-known and beloved artists of all time, and Le Bassin aux Nympheas represents a quintessential example from his celebrated and famed Water Lilies series.

(Sotheby’s/PA)
(Sotheby’s/PA)

“Sotheby’s has an exceptional history as the house for Monet, including holding the artist’s record at auction from our sale of Meules in 2019 for 110 million dollars, and we are extremely excited to bring such an illustrious picture to market for the first time in nearly two decades.

“As a remarkable example of Monet’s late period works from his cherished home at Giverny, this monumental painting beautifully encapsulates how Monet’s oeuvre evolved over time from his Impressionist breakthroughs to a more abstract focus with his preoccupation of his pond and water lilies.

“From this perspective, this work opens a whole new window on to how Monet would influence later generations of artists who expanded on his radical concepts into full abstraction, and set the stage for a new artistic movement that would take the world by storm.

“After remaining largely absent from the very top end of the market in 2020, we are thrilled to see Monet take centre stage once again through this exceptional painting in our May Evening Sale.”