$18 Million Monet Heads to Auction

Next month, Moulin de Limetz by Claude Monet (1888) will be up for auction in Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale in New York City.

Apr 2, 2024By Emily Snow, MA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial Studies

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, announced plans to sell Moulin de Limetz, an 1888 painting by Claude Monet, in Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale in New York City in May. The painting is predicted to sell for between $18 million and $25 million. The Nelson-Atkins Museum, which jointly owns the work with the descendants of donor Ethel B. Atha, will allocate its share of the proceeds towards the acquisition of new works for its collection.

“Christie’s is honored to showcase Moulin de Limetz this spring as a leading highlight of our
20th Century Evening Sale,” said Imogene Kerr, co-head of the upcoming auction. “We are
particularly thrilled to announce this just days ahead of the exact date in April that marks the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris.”

 

From Monet’s Studio to Missouri: The Provenance of Moulin de Limetz

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The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri photographed by Mark McDonald, 1888, via the Nelson-Atkins Museum

 

Painted in 1888, Moulin de Limetz was first purchased directly from Claude Monet by the
renowned Impressionist art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in 1891. After changing hands only twice more, the painting ended up in the family collection of Frank P. Atha. Frank’s wife Ethel donated Moulin de Limetz to the Nelson-Atkins Museum as a partial gift in 1986. It has been exhibited regularly at the museum since 2008 and is one of five Monet paintings in the Nelson-Atkins collection.

The Atha family recently decided to sell their one-third share of the painting and an agreement was reached with the museum to auction Moulin de Limetz at Christie’s. “While we will miss this beautiful work, this sale is also an opportunity for the museum to create the Joseph S. and Ethel B. Atha Art Acquisition Endowment…[which] will allow us to acquire art to honor the family in perpetuity and continue adding to and refining our exceptional collection,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

 

Why This Monet Matters

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Moulin de Limetz by Claude Monet, 1888, via Christie’s

 

In the summer of 1888, near his famous home in Giverny, France, Claude Monet created two sister paintings of a picturesque grain mill at Limetz-Villez on the River Epte. The second canvas of the same scene depicted in the Nelson-Atkins version sold for $25.6 million (with fees) in auction at Sotheby’s last year. In both compositions, a dense willow tree eclipses the distant view of the grain mill and the bridge over the river. The cascading foliage forms a curtain across the left side of the painting, and the rippling water in the foreground showcases the artist’s signature Impressionist brushstrokes.

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Notably, the two versions of Moulin de Limetz mark the beginning of Monet’s interest in
painting series, or multiple “impressions” of the same place at a variety of distinct moments. As in other such series by Monet, the differences between the two Moulin de Limetz compositions shine through in light and color. The Nelson-Atkins version, seemingly painted at golden hour, features a warmer and more subdued palette. In contrast, the other canvas features a more saturated and shadowy array of purples, blues, and greens, as well as a few bold splashes of red.

 

Christie’s Auction Details

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Christie’s at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, via Wikipedia

 

Featuring an exciting lineup of available works, the Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale takes place on May 11, 2024. Upon the announcement of its sale, Monet’s Moulin de Limetz became one of the most highly anticipated lots due to its fascinating provenance and the near-universal and timeless appeal of Impressionist paintings. A partial preview of the 20th Century Evening Sale will be exhibited on a global tour through April before the full exhibition and auction at Christie’s in New York City.

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By Emily SnowMA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial StudiesEmily Snow is a contributing writer and art historian based in Amsterdam. She earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and loves knitting, her calico cat, and everything Victorian.