Claude Monet’s acclaimed work ‘L’Embarcadère’, 1871, is to be offered at Sotheby’s forthcoming London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 3 February 2015. The Dutch landscape by Claude Monet is appearing on the market for the first time in a quarter of a century. The painting has been internationally exhibited at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and provides the perfect embodiment of the evolution of Impressionism. ‘L’Embarcadère’ was painted by Monet in Zaandam in Holland, where the artist lived with his family for four months over the summer of 1871.
The artist produced a series of 25 works that explored several areas surrounding Zaandam, focussing his attention upon the architectural motifs of the Dutch landscape, canals, mills, and boats. Within a strong compositional framework and in a boldly inventive style, Monet’s use of colour and the areas of lively brushwork represent his attempts to evoke the atmosphere of the scene, and Monet includes subtle, but evocative, signifiers of the weather in the full sails of the river-boats, glistening yellow painted houses – and the cool relief of the shaded river-bank. Indeed, Monet wrote to his friend Camille Pissarro on the 2 June: ‘Zaandam is particularly remarkable and there is enough to paint there for a lifetime’.
Discussing Monet’s achievements in Holland, art historian Ronald Pickvance wrote: “Monet captures the Dutchness, not merely externally…but also the delicate enveloping light and atmosphere, subtly different from the Ile de France. The superb manner in which he registers the immense and often changing Dutch skies is sufficient proof of this.” Monet’s style underwent a transformation during the early years of the 1870s. The Franco-Prussian war forced the artist and his young family to seek safety in England, where he found the companionship of other artists, such as Pissarro and Daubigny.
Whilst in London, Monet spent a great deal of time exploring the galleries, especially those containing works by the great English landscape painters Constable and Turner. However, whilst traditional landscape painting held a certain allure for Monet at this time other more exotic influences gathered attention. The artist and his contemporaries were fascinated by contemporary Japanese art which profoundly affected their own.
The evolution of Impressionism is also manifest in L’embarcadère. The artist’s use of colour and the areas of lively brushwork represent his gradual development of ideas and attempts to evoke the atmosphere of the scene. Moreover, Monet’s successful integration of figures into the composition is a feat rarely accomplished by the Impressionist painters.