The River Scene Contact Information Claude Monet

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Destroyed paintings

Monet destroyed a great deal of paintings. (Virginia Spate: ‘The colour of time’, London 1992:

“Mirbeau wrote to Monet in early 1888, reporting that Geoffrey had told him that Monet had slashed his ‘superb’ paintings of figures. ‘Can't you then repair them?’ Mirbeau asked. ‘It's real murder. Be on your guard against the insanity of (being) always perfect’.”)

Our three paintings have been badly treated, and maybe, surviving only because of Suzanne’s death in 1899.  This could be what happened:

After having been refused by Monet himself, they were taken down from the stretchers. Fold marks and impressions from other canvases show, that this is what happened. The turnover edges also show the perforation after the original tacks. The stretchers of today have not been used before.

We assume, that after the death of Suzanne, they are sought out from the piles of refused paintings. We can read about the grief of Suzanne’s mother: ‘Alice gave way to a despair that bordered on unnatural grief. Every morning at dawn she visited the cemetery. Although he gave Alice every care, Monet felt helpless… Monet even repurchased for her a portrait of Suzanne by Henner, which as art he must have detested.’, (Claire Joyes: ‘Monet, Life at Giverny’).

Suzanne with Sunflowers

Virginia Spate writes in ‘Claude Monet: Life and Work’: ‘Something of the emotional intensity at the heart of this household is suggested by a passage in Alice Monet’s diary, written four years after Suzanne’s death, when she found Mirbeau’s comments on the painting, ‘Suzanne with Sunflowers’: “What more beautiful model could one have than you, my daughter, my supreme perfection”  ‘She is of a delicate beauty (says Mirbeau’s article) and sad, infinitely sad – (Did you see the future, which would bear you away from us all?) Involuntary, one dreams of some delicate, ghostly and real, spectre of a soul!  Isn’t that an extraordinary divination – poor child!”

No signature?!

The paintings are not signed. Why?

This is nothing unusual – on the contrary. (House p.37) : "Few of the figure paintings were signed and dated at the time of their execution, which suggests that he did not consider them fully resolved; indeed they seem to have caused him particular difficulties".

In fact, all the unsigned paintings, left behind in the atelier after the death of Monet, were stamped with the signature, still they are not signed by the artist. Paintings given away by Monet during his lifetime are sometimes left unsigned as well (e.g. ‘Suzanne with Sunflowers’, W 1261).

Quick sketches - brilliant technique

Our three paintings are quick sketches, painted ‘alla prima’, outdoor. The technique is brilliant. The composition exciting, though in fact strictly calculated! The handling of colours, the light and the shadows. It is all there. Read more about this later on.

The secrets of the River Scene

‘Pochades’ – quick sketches, painted in one session, yes, but with one important ‘but’: The ‘River scene’ of today shows the second state! We found the first state after having photographed it in infra-red light and X-ray. This means that we, in a way, have found even a ‘fourth’ painting to study! Let us turn over to the ‘River scene’, and see what we can find beneath the layer of paint of today…

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