Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840 - 1926 Giverny)
Garden of the Princess, Louvre (Le Jardin de l'Infante), 1867
Oil on canvas
36 1/8 x 24 3/8 in. (91.8 x 61.9 cm)
R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1948
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This panoramic view of the Quai du Louvre and Left Bank portrays the city of Paris as both stately monument and bustling, modern metropolis. Painted shortly after the opening of the Paris World's Fair, the work is one of several important views of the city painted by Monet, Manet, and Renoir in 1867.1
In the spring of 1867 Monet was granted official permission to install himself and his easel in an east end balcony of the Louvre.2 The resulting paintings are Monet's earliest images of Paris: the Quai du Louvre (The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum);3 Oberlin's Jardin de l'Infante, painted from nearly the same viewpoint; and St. Germain-l'Auxerrois (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Nationalgalerie).4 These works belong to a critical moment within Monet's formation of an idiom for painting modern life. Previously, Monet's most ambitious paintings--Déjeuner sur l'Herbe or Femmes au Jardin (both 1866; Paris, Musée d'Orsay)--had focused on the individual comportment and dress of middle-class men and women taking their leisure in intimate, outdoor settings. The Paris views multiply and disperse these figures within a broad expanse of space and atmospheric phenomena, amidst a wide variety of incident, movement, and activity.5
In siting his three Paris paintings at the quai and place du Louvre, Monet could depict a central thoroughfare that had been recently enlarged, repaved, and refurbished,6 and at the same time, include clearly recognizable portraits of a set of historical Paris monuments. The title and foreground is given to the stately geometry of the Garden of the Princess, whose name evokes the once royal, then imperial, pedigree of the Louvre's inhabitants. Crowning the view is the cupola of the Pantheon, resting place of the great men of French history; flanking it to the left and right are the bell tower of St.-Etienne-du-Mont and the cupola of the Val du Grace. The façades, attics, and chimneys at the far left indicate the Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité; further back and extending to the right are the buildings along the Left Bank. The tall, dark foliage behind the younger chestnut trees along the quai both signal and obscure the pointe or terminus of the Cité, where the French flag is planted.
Wedged between the chestnut trees and the garden are the place and quai du Louvre, where dozens of figures in transit--riding, strolling, striding, or pausing--are briefly noted and dressed with a few blunt strokes of the brush. The contrast in execution between the buildings and the figures--the attention to detail, surface, and tonal gradation in much of the architecture, and the approximate, improvisational strokes of physiognomy and movement in the figures--suggests a complementary relationship between the city's historical continuities and the dynamic exchanges of contemporary life.7
While offering a convincing view of a familiar site, Monet's Paris paintings do not aim for topographical precision. The effects of format and composition are evident when one compares the Jardin de L'Infante with the straightforward though more diffuse organization of the Quai du Louvre at The Hague. The clear shapes of the Oberlin canvas are stacked vertically, from the quai to the sky; while this area is viewed straight on, the garden is viewed from above. The axial disposition of the Oberlin composition is the most complex of the three Paris views. The central, vertical axis created by the Pantheon competes with the elusive slope of the quai and (invisible) Seine; the garden expands beyond the frame of the picture at a sharp angle.8 Robert Herbert has discussed these elisions and oblique viewpoints as a careful orchestration of the casual, random appearance of things in the modern experience of the city. At the same time, the composition's various symmetries and regular patterns invoke the ordered, controlling aspects of the newly planned city.9
The Jardin de l'Infante also demonstrates the persistence--and the peculiarity--of realism in Monet's practice in the 1860s. While his later Impressionist paintings of the boulevards present a homogeneous field of painted marks, creating a strict unity of vision and sensation, the Jardin de l'Infante modulates its brushwork, address, and tonality to register differences in things: from the thicket of grey, white, and blue marks clouding the sky to the seamless expanse of the lawn; from the bright, neutral pavement to the daubed layers of foliage; and from one (briefly indicated) urban type, silhouette, or posture to another.
Born Oscar-Claude Monet in Paris on 10 November 1840, Monet moved with his family to Le Havre at the age of five. His early work as a a caricaturist (ca. 1856) drew the attention of the painter Eugene Boudin, who, along with J.B. Jongkind, first convinced Monet of his vocation as an open-air landscape painter. Monet met Jongkind in 1862 while studying in the atelier of academic painter Charles Gleyre (1806-1874). Monet produced his first significant works in 1864, which were exhibited in the Salon the following year.
Throughout the second half of the 1860s Monet worked closely with a group of young painters whom he had also met in Gleyre's atelier: Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870), Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Drawing on a wide range of precedents in recent, naturalistic French painting--particularly the work of Courbet, Corot, and the Barbizon school of landscape --the young artists painted landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works, employing a frank, direct manner of paint application. Like the previous generation of open-air landscape painters, they occasionally worked in the Forest Fontainebleau, where Monet began the immensely ambitious Déjeuner sur l'herbe, a response to Manet's famous work of the same title of 1863. Monet would never complete this painting, which was to be a monumental (4 x 6 meters) merging of open-air techniques with a portrayal of modern types, gestures, and dress (two large fragments are in Paris, Musée d'Orsay, and a large, final sketch is in Moscow, Puschkin Museum). Monet's next major work, the Women in the Garden, was rejected from the Salon of 1867, the year of Monet's first paintings of Paris (see Main Text). The Paris works were quickly followed by another group of successful landscapes with figures, executed in the fashionable resorts of the Normandy coast.
In the 1870s Monet became a leading member of the Impressionist group. In 1883 he settled in Giverny, about fifty miles west of Paris, where he lived for the rest of his life. During the 1890s, after his second marriage and the purchase of the property at Giverny, he began to develop extensive flower and water gardens, which he first painted in the late 1890s with a series devoted to a Japanese bridge, and which became his chief subject for the rest of his life.
Gordon, Robert, and Andrew Forge. Monet. New York, 1983.
Stuckey, Charles, ed. Monet: A Retrospective. New York, 1985.
Wildenstein, Daniel. Claude Monet. Biographie et catalogue raisonné. 4 vols.
Lausanne and Paris, 1985.
Spate, Virginia. Claude Monet. Life and Work. New York, 1992.
Tucker, Paul. Claude Monet. Life and Art. New Haven and London, 1995.
Purchased from the artist by Charles de Bériot, 1873
His sale, Paris (Hotel Drouot), 11 March 1901, lot 76 (to Bernheim-Jeune)
Sale Paris (Bernheim-Jeune), 1908 (to Durand-Ruel and Rosenberg)
Collection Frédéric Bonner (until 1912)
His sale, New York, 24 January 1912, lot 36 ($4100, to Durand-Ruel for Louisine Havemeyer)
Collection Louisine Havemeyer (d. 1929)
By descent to Horace Havemeyer (until 1948)
Consigned by Horace Havemeyer, September 1948, to M. Knoedler and Company, New York, from whom purchased December 1948
Strasbourg, Chateau de Rohan, 1907. Art français contemporain. 2 March - 2 April. Cat. no. 186.
Stuttgart, Museum der Bildenden Kunste, 1907. Franzisiche Kunstwerke. 1 - 31 May. Cat. no. 169.
Paris, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, 1952. Claude Monet. 19 June - 17 July. Cat. no. 5.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, 1952. Claude Monet. 10 May - 1 June. Cat. no. 9.
The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum, 1952. Claude Monet. 24 July - 22 September Cat. no. 6.
New York, M. Knoedler & Company, Inc., 1954. Paintings and Drawings from Five Centuries: Collection Allen Memorial Art Museum. 3 - 21 February. Cat. no. 59.
The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1954. Two Sides of the Medal: French Painting from Gérome to Gauguin. 28 September - 6 November. Cat. no. 44.
St. Louis, The City Art Museum, 1957. Claude Monet. 25 September - 22 October (also shown at Minneapolis Institute of Arts). Cat. no. 3.
Palm Beach, Society of the Four Arts, 1958. Paintings by Claude Monet. 3 January - 2 February. Cat. no. 1.
Kenwood, London County Council, 1962. An American University Collection: Works of Art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin Ohio. 3 May - 30 October. Cat. no. 28.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1966. Treasures from the Allen Memorial Art Museum. 21 July - 11 September. No cat.
Baltimore Museum of Art, 1968. From El Greco to Pollock: Early and Late Works by European and American Artists. 22 October - 8 December. Cat. no. 77.
New York, Wildenstein Galleries, 1970. One Hundred Years of Impressionism. 2 April - 9 May. Cat. no. 6.
The Art Institute of Chicago, 1975. Paintings by Monet. 15 March - 11 May. Cat. no. 12.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1978. The Second Empire, 1852-1870. Art in France Under Napoleon III. 1 October - 26 November (also shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais). Cat. no. VI-90.
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, 1994. Les Origines de l'Impressionisme (Origins of Impressionism). 19 April - 8 August (also shown at New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Cat. no. 133.
Geffroy, Gustave. Claude Monet. Paris, 1922, pp. 261-62.
The H. O. Havemeyer Collection. New York, 1931, p. 421.
Rewald, John. The History of Impressionism. New York, 1946, p. 131.
Leymarie, Jean. Impressionism. Vol. 1. Lausanne, 1955, p. 34.
Cooper, Douglas, and John Richardson. Claude Monet: An Exhibition of Paintings Arranged in Association with the Edinburgh Festival Society. Exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1957, p. 41.
Seitz, William C. Claude Monet. New York, 1960, p. 68.
Isaacson, Joel. "Monet's Views of Paris." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 24, no. 1 (Fall 1966), pp. 4-22.
Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. Oberlin, 1967, pp. 112-13, fig. 95.
Sutton, Denys. Claude Monet, The Early Years. Exh. cat., Lefebre Gallery, London, 1969, p. 11.
Mondadori, Arnoldo, ed. I Giganti, Charles Baudelaire. Milan, 1970, p. 50.
Nochlin, Linda. "Museums and Radicals: A History of Emergencies." Art in America 54, no. 4 (July-August 1971), p. 26.
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Sharp Young, Mahonri. "The Monet Show at Chicago." Apollo 101 (April 1975), pp. 330-31.
Isaacson, Joel. Observation and Reflection, Claude Monet. Oxford, 1978, p. 15.
Rischel, Joseph. In The Second Empire, 1852-1870: Art in France under Napoleon III. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1978, pp. 337-38, cat. no. VI-90.
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Herbert, Robert. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven, 1988, pp. 10-12, 17, 149, 177-78, 210, 296, 303.
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Howard, Michael. Monet. London, 1989, pp. 13, 33.
Rouart, Denis. Monet. Geneva, 1990, p. 35.
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Hunt, John Dixon. Gardens and the Picturesque: Studies in the History of Landscape Architecture. Cambridge, Mass., 1992, pp. 250-51.
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Smith, Paul. Impressionism: Beneath the Surface. New York, 1995, p. 24.
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Both the surface and support of the painting are in good condition with minor cracks, losses, and abrasions scattered throughout. The paint application is varied, and ranges from moderate to thickly applied passages. The canvas was probably commercially prepared. A white or cream-colored ground is visible in a few areas in the lower part of the composition. The moderately fine weave of the canvas shows through.
The canvas was relined in 1975, replacing a glue adhesive with a wax adhesive to stabilize the surface and minimize cracking. Minor paint losses--scattered throughout the sky, and in the lower left and right--were filled, and small tears in the tree area at the left edge were mended. The natural resin varnish, which had left deposits in the interstices, was removed. The work was revarnished with acryloid B-72.
1. Edouard Manet, Exposition universelle de 1867 (Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet); Auguste Renoir, The Champs Elysees (private collection) and Le Pont des Arts (Norton Simon Foundation).
2. "Monsieur...J'ai l'honneur de venir vous demander de vouloir bien me faire accorder une autorisation spéciale pour faire des vue de Paris des fenetres du Louvre, et notamment de la colonnade extérieure, ayant y faire une vue de St.-Germain-l'Auxerrois"; letter from Monet to Nieuwerkerke, Surintendant des Beaux-Arts, published in Daniel Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue des oeuvres (Lausanne, 1991), letter 2687, p. 188; cited in Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette, Origins of Impressionism (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994), p. 431.
3. Oil on canvas, 65 x 93 cm, inv. 17.1942.
4. Oil on canvas, 79 x 98 cm; inv. SG998.
5. "In approaching the city," writes Joel Isaacson, "Monet attempted for the first time to cope with the panoramic aspect of modern society"; Joel Isaacson, "Monet's Views of Paris," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 24, no. 1 (Fall 1966), p. 13. The first serious study of Monet's 1867 views of Paris, Isaacson's essay was also the first to argue that all three works were painted in the spring of 1867, despite the fact that a date of 1866 appears on the Berlin canvas. Two documents published by Daniel Wildenstein have since secured this date for the three canvases. The first is the letter from Monet to Nieuwerkerke of 27 April 1867, cited in footnote two, and the second, a letter to Bazille from Monet on 20 May 1867, which states that he and Renoir were still working on their city views (Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. 1 [Lausanne and Paris, 1974], p. 423, letter 33). See also Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette, Origins of Impressionism (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994), p. 431.
6. There is a vast literature (primary and secondary) on the rebuilding of Paris under the direction of Baron Haussmann, Prefect of the Seine during the Second Empire. In English, the classic account is David H. Pinkney, Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris (Princeton, 1972). For the relationship between the city's transformations and Impressionist painting, see T. J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers (New York, 1985), chapter one; and Robert Herbert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society (New Haven, 1988), chapter one. Herbert also offers the best recent account of the Jardin de l'Infante (ibid., pp. 7-12).
7. While this contrast in architectural and figural address is evident in all three canvases, the divergence is most evident in the Berlin painting, while the Oberlin canvas contains the most freely brushed, "impressionistic" figures. Joel Isaacson ("Monet's Views of Paris," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 24, no. 1 [Fall 1966], pp. 15ff.) views these degrees of divergence and sketchiness in the figures as evidence that the Oberlin work was painted last . For a discussion of the Jardin de l'Infante in terms of Monet's frequent contrast or juxtaposition of traditional and modern France in 1867, see Paul H. Tucker, Claude Monet: Life and Art (New Haven, 1995), p. 26.
8. For Arsone Alexandre, writing in 1921, the painting's success lay precisely in its oblique disposition: "A slightly oblique median line is, so to speak, the axis of the entire view. This line is the course of the river itself, more inferred than shown because the incidental details of the buildings continuously intervene. One feels it and one cannot see it...."; Arsone Alexandre, Claude Monet (Paris, 1921), p. 34; cited in Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette, Origins of Impressionism (exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994), p. 431.
9. Herbert writes, "the observer locates the Seine by adjusting a series of clues, seemingly casual in their arrangement....In the foreground, the large green segment of the garden floats off the bottom and right edges. Thanks to its eccentric angles, we have a feeling of excitement and tentativeness in Monet's picture, appropriate to our height and to the expression of wonder that the new Paris induced in Monet, and now in us." He adds that "this is man-made or man-determined nature. More than that, it is the newly rebuilt, well-controlled nature of the Second Empire, symbolized by the busily colored flag amongst the foliage." Robert Herbert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society (New Haven, 1988), p. 12.