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Nympheas, Japanese Bridge

Claude Monet, French, 1840 - 1926

Geography:
Made in France, Europe

Date:
1918-1926

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
35 x 36 1/2 inches (88.9 x 92.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

* Gallery 164, European Art 1850-1900, first floor (Women´s Committee Gallery)

Accession Number:
1974-178-38

Credit Line:
The Albert M. Greenfield and Elizabeth M. Greenfield Collection, 1974

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Label:
Late in life, Monet repeatedly painted motifs that he found in the garden of his country house at Giverny, including this Japanese-style footbridge that spanned a pond laden with water lilies.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Monet had already made the small country village of Giverny, located forty miles northwest of Paris, his home for ten years when in 1893 he purchased nearby land to create a garden that would provide him with material to paint on rainy days or when he was not traveling. The elaborate water lily pond and the gardens surrounding Monet's home and studio became two of the most prevalent, recurring motifs of the last thirty years of his career. An arched bridge, inspired by those in Japanese woodcuts, was a frequent focus of his work in 1899 and 1900, while in subsequent works he turned his focus downward onto the pond itself, with its water lilies and reflections. In this nearly square picture, painted near the end of his life, Monet returned to the subject of the bridge, but it has been transformed by his exuberant brushwork and color. An almost indistinct mass, the bridge is engulfed by an arbor and trailing wisteria that had since been added (and which were tended by the six gardeners that Monet employed). Lavishly covered in paint that is caked on the surface in mounds, the picture is a forceful assertion of the aging painter's unrelenting desire to capture the dazzling effects of the landscape around him. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 78.
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    The elaborate water garden that the Impressionist painter Claude Monet created at Giverny, a sleepy village along the river Seine some forty miles northwest of Paris, has become one of the great pilgrimage sites of modern art. The main attraction for visitors is the Japanese footbridge spanning the water-lily pond in the lower garden, which first appeared in the artist's work in 1895. Monet returned to the motif in the famous series of water lilies that he painted during the summers of 1899 and 1900, shifting his focus from the arched bridge to the floating plants shimmering in the light. Monet reworked the theme of the Japanese bridge in the last years of his life but with vastly different results. These tumultuous late canvases display vivid coloration, expressive brushwork, and formal dissolution, such that the outlines of the bridge are barely distinguishable from the hanging plants above and the water beneath.

    The gestural handling and pyrotechnics of color place this undated painting among the group of Japanese bridge pictures that Monet painted after 1918. Compared to the harmonious order of the bridge paintings from the turn of the century, these late works exude a breathtaking sense of daring. The artist's innovations were, in part, prompted by the appearance of the bridge itself. A trellis with trailing Chinese and Japanese wisteria was added about 1910, and within a few years the footbridge was nearly hidden by a mass of hanging vines and leaves that cloaks its canopy and uprights. Here the wisteria-festooned bridge, water lilies, irises, reeds, and reflections are depicted with intensely toned pigments that coat the surface in thick layers suggestive of lavish vegetation. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 40.

Provenance

The artist's son Michel Monet (1878-1966), Giverny, 1926; sold to Katia Granoff (dealer), Paris, c. 1950 [1]; with M. Knoedler & Co., New York, as of October 1956 [2]; sold to Mr. & Mrs. Albert Greenfield, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, April 16, 1957 [3]; gift to PMA, 1974. 1. See Monet, Later Works: Homage to Katia Granoff (exh. cat., Iwate Museum of Art, Japan), 2001, p. 117. 2. Exhibited by Knoedler, New York, "Monet, Les Nymphéas, séries de paysages d'eau," October 1956. 3. Dated receipt in curatorial file.


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