The River Scene Contact Information Claude Monet

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What do we find on the reverse of the paintings?

The River Scene

River Scene

The reverse of "The River Scene". Click above for a larger picture.

IR photo

IR photo



On the stretcher, in the upper, left hand corner, is written in pencil: ‘337’ with a dot after, inscribed within a circle. You will find corresponding numbers at the other two. This is most certainly a stock number, which means that they once belonged to a dealer.

The numbers on the two others are written by the same hand. The numbers are all inscribed in a circle written with a dot after the number. The other numbers are 453 and 454. This means that there must exist, at least: four hundred and fifty one other paintings with similar stock numbers?! Which means there are as many chances to find the answer of the question: Who was the dealer?



On the stretcher we also find the number ‘23’, painted with a brush in diluted, lilac colour, underlined and partly ’framed’ in a very characteristic way. This must be an exhibition number.

We also find the same kind of figure, ‘31’, on the stretcher of the ‘Meadow scene’!

It is interesting to observe the lilac colour – used so often by Monet. Could it be that the artist himself has painted these numbers? Since they are, in fact, painted,  it makes good sense. Monet uses the instrument he prefers – the brush.


At the bottom stretcher it is written in blue ink: ‘15000/2500’ with a very characteristic running hand. What could this be but the price asked for this painting – in FRF and USD?!

In a black and white photo the apperance of two possible
stamps occur. Could these be custom'S stampS?!

In the year of december 1915 until june 1916, this shows to be an equivalent rate of exchange. It is also a reasonable price for this painting, compared to prices paid at auctions during this time. Already in the year 1887, the parisian art dealer Durand-Ruel opened an art gallery in New York, after having had great success with impressionist exhibitions.

This cannot be the only impressionist painting with the price written on the stretcher like this!?


Click for larger image of the whole frame

This ornament-frame has been used before, but it is the "original" for our River-scene. The two others also carry frames that have been used before. These are however also the ’originals’ chosen for our paintings. In fact it showed that none of the paintings had ever been taken out of their frames before our restorers did. This means that they spent over 100 years untouched by restorers, according to our theories, since 1899, the year when Suzanne dies.

The River-scene and the Garden-scene were, to put it mildly, extremely dirty and covered by a deep brown varnish. Unfortunately the film, that was taken before and during the restoring, was destroyed by accident. Some photos from the restoring of the Meadow-scene ’survived’. This canvas was also very dirty, but not at the least as dirty as the two others. (See photo below).

Click for larger photo

We notice the white inner border of the frame and recognize the impressionist touch and taste. We know that some of the impressionists sometimes even preferred old ornamnent frames all white, with the gilt totally rubbed off. Looking closer we can easily see what has happened here. The original gilt of the inner border has been rubbed and scraped off. The frame was  ’modernized’ to the taste of the time! Having found out this, we might even have found out the meaning of the two letters ’PM’ found written in pencil on this frame and perhaps probably corresponding to and being short for  ’P Moderne’ written by the same hand on the back of the frame belonging to The Garden scene. If  this stands for ’pas moderne’ meaning that this frame was not ’modern’ - according to Monet´s opinion – this is the way of writing this to be remembered by the man who had the responsibility for the maintanance of this part of the ’picturemaking–industry’.

French label

There are many reasons to believe that this label is the original exhibition label for the first version of our River-scene! We have already studied the small rose reminiscences looking out from beneath the paint-layers of the second version of today. "Sujet traite: Soirée ..-se" - rose? The light from the setting sun was certainly rose and the time for the painting session certainly Soirée.

Certainly a title with impressionistic character, but we have not yet, been able to find out wether used by Monet or not. Perhaps someone can identify this label. Perhaps there might exist a catalogue?

Please observe all the holes after screws - the frame has been used as exhbition frame after the label was glued on. There are holes on all four sides and it might have been used at least six times according to holes matching each other.

We also read "53 E.." (Exposiiton?) -ent Bul.. probably the address for the Exhibition.

Concerning frames John House writes: ”Later he accumulated his own stock of frames of various sizes at Giverny. ” (p.181). ”; the frames at Giverny can be seen at film taken there by John Read in summer 1975.” (Ch 10 note 28).
What happened to these frames? Please let me know!
Since we have so many annotations, exactly alike written by the same hand, on all the three frames it would of course be very exiting to have the chance to examine these frames that still were at Giverny in 1975! Where are they now? Somebody must know?


The written text 'creus' (?) and 'pm'

On the frame is also written, in pencil, ‘PM’. On the frame of the ‘Meadow scene’ it is written: ‘PM’, probably PM here is short for P Moderne?  What this means we certainly would like to find out. We suppose that somewhere, there must be other frames with the same script.


On the back of the canvas is the size of it, written in pencil. This is done in the same way on all the three canvases – by the same hand. Here it is: ‘55x46’. This handwriting should also be possible to identify on other canvases.

We know that Monet got help with the frame work from his chauffeur. According to our theory, these paintings are framed when Suzanne dies in 1899. Paintings executed from around this year might have similar measuring figures.

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