«Le bassin aux nymphéas», one of the monumental canvases by the French painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) belonging to his famous series of water lilies, will be the centerpiece of the 20th Century Evening Sale on November 9th in New York, the auction organized by Christie’s. This superb example, painted circa 1917-1919, has remained in the same family collection for over fifty years but has never been exhibited in public for over a century: it will be offered for sale with an estimate of over $65 million. Modern and timeless, «Le bassin aux nymphéas» captures the dynamism and beauty of nature’s transience, exploring the ephemeral atmosphere, seasonal blooms, aquatic depths and reflections of light of Monet’s famous water lily pond in Giverny. Max Carter, Christie’s vice president for 20th and 21st century art, said: «With Monet, seemingly everything has already been seen or said. «Le bassin aux nymphéas», which has never been exhibited or offered at auction, is nevertheless that rarest of things: a rediscovered masterpiece. Thoroughly worked, impeccably preserved and hidden in the same private collection since 1972, «Le bassin aux nymphéas» remains as surprising today as it was 100 years ago. We are excited to unveil it publicly for the first time on October 4th in Hong Kong.”
Landmarks of late Impressionism, Monet’s paintings of his Giverny gardens are among the most innovative and influential works of his art. For the last 25 years of his life, Monet dedicated himself to immortalizing the landscape of his home, producing a body of work rich in complexity and variety. «Le bassin aux nymphéas» is a key example of this famous series of works dedicated to water lilies and measures more than two meters wide. An oil canvas from Monet’s Water Lilies series of this size and quality has not been auctioned since a painting in the historic May 2018 sale of The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller achieved a price of $84.7 million . «Le bassin aux nymphéas» dates from 1917-1919, a very important period of experimentation in Monet’s practice, during which the artist achieved a new pictorial vision of the water lily pond, stimulated by the desire to create mural-sized images of this motif rather than the small waterscapes he had created previously.
These grand and monumental representations were full of gestural and vigorous splashes of color that merged to form the aquatic landscape; the vibrancy and gestural quality of the brushwork revealed the impressive energy behind the artist’s paintings, even at this late stage in his career. These revolutionary compositions were initially met with mixed reactions by Monet’s contemporaries, but later found favor with a younger generation of artists and collectors in the final decades of the 20th century.