Charing Cross Bridge

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
26 x 36-1/2 in. (canvas) 37 x 47-1/2 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of Several Friends of the Museum
Accession number
65.15
Collection
Currently On View In
Norb and Ruth Schaefer, Sr. & Norb and Carolyn Schaefer Gallery - H211

Monet was fascinated by the vaporous mists of London. He visited the English capital three times between 1899 and 1901, painting views of the River Thames. As in his earlier series of haystacks and cathedrals, Monet used many canvases to differentiate the changing effects of light and climate.

From his vantage point on a balcony of the Savoy Hotel, he dissolved the details of Parliament and the Charing Cross railroad bridge into shifting veils of blue, rose, and violet. Emphasizing the canvas's rich surface, Monet has dragged his brush in graceful, almost playful, curls across the shimmering British haze.

By inheritance to Michel Monet [1878-1966], Claude Monet's son.{1} (Paul Petrides, Paris).{2} Denys Sutton [1917-1991], London. (The New Gallery, New York), around 1959.{3} (Findlay Galleries, Chicago, by 1964);{4} purchased by Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1965 (65.15).{5}

{1} Stamped twice on back of canvas with the estate stamp (a reproduction signature) along with the number '8'.
{2} The AAM Guide to Provenance Research, 2001, lists Paul Pétrides as a red flag name. He opened the Galerie Paul Pétrides in Paris in 1934, but became an active collaborationist dealer during the war. After the war, he reopened his Paris gallery, currently run by his son, Gilbert. Correspondence with the latter in September 2003 indicates that his gallery's records regarding international sales in the 1950s are incomplete. The Monet scholar, John House, has suggested that there would have been no market for such a loosely painted Monet until the 1950s, and speculates that this canvas may have remained at Giverny throughout the war, and sold - to Pétrides? - in the 1950s. See e-mail from John House dated July 30, 2003, in IMA Provenance File.
{3} This gallery no longer exists, however an exhibition brochure, 10th anniversary exhibition, The New Gallery, NY, September-October 1959, no. 16 (ill.), available in the Pamphlet Files of the Art and Architecture Collection at the New York Public Library, confirms this.
{4} See letter from Phyllis Whitman of Findlay Galleries, Chicago, dated June 10, 1965 in IMA Historical File.
{5} For bibliography and exhibition history, see Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. 4, Geneva 1985, cat. no. 1530.
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Fascinated by the dense fog of London, Claude Monet joined the ranks of artists James McNeill Whistler and J.M.W. Turner in producing memorable images of the British capital. Monet passed the winters of 1899, 1900, and 1901 painting views of the Thames River and capturing the London mists, rendered even thicker by the growing smog of the industrial era. From his vantage point on the fifth-floor balcony of the Savoy Hotel, Monet dissolved the familiar forms of Parliament, Waterloo Bridge, and the Charing Cross railway bridge into shifting veils of blue, rose, and violet.

When Monet painted this canvas, the Impressionist movement was more than twenty-five years old, and the themes and mood of his art reflect distinct changes. During the 1890s, he had turned increasingly from bustling urban subjects and convivial landscapes to silent settings where no human presence intrudes. As in his earlier series of haystacks or cathedrals, Monet used several canvases to record the fugitive effects of changing light and atmosphere. The IMA painting is one of nearly one hundred that he began in London and finished in his Giverny studio. Unsigned and loosely worked in the manner of his pastel sketches, this image may be one that Monet opted not to develop further. Using radiant colors and the canvas's rich surface texture, Monet dragged his brush in graceful curls across the glowing British haze.

Without the fog London wouldn't be a beautiful city. It's the fog that gives it its magnificent breadth.
-Claude Monet, about 1918