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Lot #405
Claude Monet Autograph Letter Signed

Monet on his movement: "You seem to singularly stick to this title of ‘impressionist,’ which does not mean much and has made people tell so much nonsense"

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Estimate: $6000+
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Description

Monet on his movement: "You seem to singularly stick to this title of ‘impressionist,’ which does not mean much and has made people tell so much nonsense"

ALS in French, two pages both sides, 5.25 x 8, April 8, 1906. Handwritten letter from his Giverny gardens to the painter Michel-Auguste Colle, with a critical comment on the use and overuse of the word 'Impressionism.' In full (translated): "I have perfectly received your two letters but, being very busy, have been unable to reply sooner. The matter about which you ask me is quite serious and delicate. I surely do not want to refuse, and only pray you to tell me beforehand when you would like to come for, if I should be at work, it would impossible for me to receive you. I would therefore have to decide the day and timeā€¦P.S. You seem to singularly stick to this title of ‘impressionist’, which does not mean much and has made people tell so much nonsense." In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope, addressed in Monet's hand.

The first Impressionist exhibition took place in April and May of 1874, led by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Berthe Morisot. Many critics did not take the show seriously, but it was well-attended by the public—many of whom showed up to witness and ridicule this 'insult' to the art world. Inspired by Monet's painting 'Impression, soleil levant,' art critic Louis Leroy entitled his derisive review 'Exhibition of Impressionists,' satirizing and mocking the show. But instead of discrediting their work, he established their identity—one that Monet evidently took issue with.

This letter reflects in a remarkable way what Monet himself thought about the word 'Impressionist' more than thirty years after it was first used. More than one century later, the term is still widely used in spite of Monet’s rejection. This unique letter bears witness in a most striking manner to the discrepancy between the way in which the history of one of the most important artistic movements has been written and the vision held by its leading member.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts
  • Dates: #643 - Ended September 14, 2022





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