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Early works by French master Monet could sell for $50 million in auction

Updated 20th January 2022
Five of Claude Monet's early paintings will be auctioned by Sotheby's in March
Credit: Sotheby's
Early works by French master Monet could sell for $50 million in auction
Written by Hannah Ryan, CNN
Several early works by one of the world's most renowned Impressionist painters, Claude Monet, are to be put up for sale by the British auction house Sotheby's, with a combined estimate of $50 million.
The five paintings, which together chart the French master's shift to a more abstract style over a 15-year period, will be offered for auction in London in March, Sotheby's said.
The works all predate 1900 -- which means they offer an insight into the artist's development and style before he painted the most celebrated pieces from his "Water Lilies" series in the early 20th century.
"In charting the progression towards his great waterlily paintings, these five stunning works brilliantly articulate the story of Monet as the father of modern art," said Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby's Europe and worldwide head of Impressionist and Modern art.
"Les Demoiselles de Giverny", estimated to be worth between £15-20 million ($25-27 million), features one of the Parisian painter's most recognizable and most commonly recurring motifs -- grainstacks or 'meulettes', which appear more loosely formed than the finished haystacks found in his other works, according to Sotheby's.
"Les Demoiselles de Giverny" is the highest valued work of the five Monet paintings to go on sale in March
"Les Demoiselles de Giverny" is the highest valued work of the five Monet paintings to go on sale in March Credit: Sotheby's
It is the highest valued of the five works in the collection.
Another of the paintings, a canvas populated entirely by flowers titled "Massif de chrysanthèmes" from 1897, can be viewed as a precursor for Monet's most famous works from the "Water Lilies" series, Sotheby's said in a press release. In fact, his first water lily paintings date from the exact same year that he produced these close-ups of flowers.
Sotheby's said that "Massif de chrysanthèmes" was highly likely to have been inspired by the legendary Japanese printmaker Hokusai -- who created the famous "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" -- as Monet owned his "Large Flowers" pieces and was fascinated by the country, to the point that Japanese prints decorated his walls.
"Glaçons, environs de Bennecourt" is seen as possessing some of the the same motifs and style as the French Impressionist's later "Water Lilies" paintings
"Glaçons, environs de Bennecourt" is seen as possessing some of the the same motifs and style as the French Impressionist's later "Water Lilies" paintings Credit: Sotheby's
"Glaçons, environs de Bennecourt," included in the collection, also demonstrates Monet's journey towards the later water lily paintings, the auction house said. This painting conveys the effect of heavy snow and frost on the Seine, and the artist's depiction of the ice on the river's surface is not dissimilar to the portrayal of flowers on the water in the works he began a few years later, Sotheby's noted.
The paintings will go in display in Sotheby's galleries in New York, Hong Kong, Taipei and London before the sale on March 2.
This article was updated to reflect Monet's painting style.