On 14 September an exhibition is due to open at the Marmottan Museum in Paris dedicated to the private collection of one of the greatest modern masters, Claude Monet.
Featuring works by Renoir, Manet and Cézanne that belonged to the Giverny master, the collection was bequeathed to the Académie des Beaux-Arts (who own the Marmottan Museum) by Monet’s younger son Michel on his death in 1966.
But on 26 November, Christie’s Hong Kong will be launching its first impressionist auction (30% of modern art buyers these days are from Asia according to Christie’s) to feature another private collection, this one totally unknown, which also belonged to the giant of Impressionism.
Claude Monet had two sons, Jean and Michel, who were both married and childless, or so we believed.
Adrien Meyer Co-Chairman of the Impressionist and Modern Department at Christie’s has discovered the existence of Rolande Verneiges, who died in 2006, the illegitimate daughter of Michel Monet.
Her father never formally recognised her, but it seems he showered his offspring with gifts proving the existence of her famous grandfather. The collection is sold at auction by Rolande’s inheritor.
Adrien Meyer, recounts the strange story of this discovery.
The collection is not exceptional in value (the 55 lots are estimated to total 5 million dollars) but it contains items that will be affecting for any fan of this great name in art history, from his spectacles (estimated at 1000 euros) to a painting entitled “Three trees at Giverny, Poplars” from 1887 estimated at 2 million dollars, the highest-priced item in the catalogue.
Among the most notable lots there is a little pastel piece, a very atypical night-time landscape by Monet, whose mysterious nature recalls Victor Hugo’s ink drawings (estimated at 150,000 dollars).
The only present Auguste Rodin gave to Claude Monet, according to Adrien Meyer, is a watercolour depicting Salomé the beheader (estimated at 50,000 dollars).
Monet was a Japanese art fanatic, and a collection of some fifteen Japanese prints is here along with a 19th-century Japanese ceramic cat, an identical model of which can be found in Monet’s dining room at Giverny.
French viewers will be particularly enchanted by the photo of Monet shot in 1915 by the famous French writer Sacha Guitry, who also made a film about the art master.
All the works, despite not having been located until now, have either been indexed or recognised by specialists.
These paintings, objects and souvenirs were stored under the bed and in the basement of a modest building 300 kilometres from Paris.
A family secret that is now worth over 5 million dollars.