Claude Monet, certainly

CLAUDE MONET: Claude Monet, Le Palais Ducal, oil on canvas, 1908 (est. £20,000,000-30,000,000)

IN 1908 for three months Claude Monet painted Venice and most of the canvases he painted in those three productive months are now to be found in Museums across the world.

Some are held in private collections. One of these celebrated works is ‘Le Palais Ducal’. Itself one of three painted from the self-same vantage point, a boat in the midst of the Grand Canal. Claude Monet arrived in Venice on the 1 October 1908 where upon he declared the city “too beautiful to paint” however then proceeded to do just that and painted the enchanted city nearly thirty times.

‘Le Palais Ducal’ has been in a family collection since it was acquired by the textile tycoon Erich Goeritz of Berlin in 1925. Unseen for nearly four decades the painting was at last exhibited a year ago in a room dedicated to the Venice series in the National Gallery, London. The occasion a show of ‘Monet and Architecture’ which reviewed Monet’s ground-breaking depiction of the world in which he lived.


Helena Newman, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art commented ahead of the Auction on the 26 February “This spellbinding painting is a true masterpiece and among the very greatest that Monet painted during his first and only encounter with Venice. Having remained in the same family collection since 1925, it presents a rare opportunity for collectors from all over the world to acquire a painting of this quality that is fresh to the market.”

The composition is divided, between the palace’s exterior and its reflection in the water of the Grand Canal. Monet’s has animated the waters which has the effect of bringing the brick exterior of the palace which is illuminated by a diffuse low light, to life. In Venice Claude Monet channelled the artistic inheritance of JMW Turner and James Abbot McNeill Whistler for whom the city of Venice also held a special significance. ‘Le Palais Ducal’ is not an architectural view or an urban landscape more a suggestion of a feeling a summary of what the Serenissima the serene city then represented. Henri Matisse once remarked that, “it seemed to [him] that Turner must have been the link between the academic tradition and impressionism.”

‘Le Palais Ducal’ is modern in the manner in which it is painted and most definitely of our age. A century after it was painted much water has flowed along the Grand Canal there is barely a person on the planet that has not heard of the serene city at least once many have visited and more have seen a view along the Grand Canal. Sotheby’s estimate a low of £20 million and a high estimate of £30 million. Certain and uncertain times have come and gone over that period, is there a suggestion of uncertainty in the spread of the estimate for this painting created by Claude Monet at the apotheosis of his art? Are there several enthusiasts waiting to pounce? Time and an auction will tell.

Nick Horne, London, England



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