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La Seine à Vétheuil (The Seine in Vétheuil)

Claude Monet

(1840 - 1926) | Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts (Inv. D.1954.6.1)

Date : 1879 | Medium : Oil on canvas, 81 x 60 cm

Painted using a limited colour palette, this composition reflects the artist’s mastery, with the movement perfectly translating the creator’s thoughts. The painting’s portrait format enables both the sky and the reflections in the water to be depicted together; only the strokes, which are more rounded in the sky and longer and more slender in the water, prevent the viewer from being confused and enable the landscape to be clearly interpreted.

This painting is one of five canvases that Georges de Bellio (1828-1894), a Romanian doctor and patron of Monet, bought from the latter in 1879. It was then transferred into the collection of his daughter and son-in-law, Ernest Donop de Monchy, where it remained at least until 1940 when it was loaned to the Monet-Rodin Centenary exhibition organised at the Orangerie des Tuileries for the Entraide des Artistes. Little is known about the timing and circumstances of its removal from the collection.

We do know that it was then bought from Raphaël Gérard, a very prolific dealer under the occupation, by a dealer from Munich, Maria Almas Dietrich, for 430,000 francs on 31 October 1941. After the war, Gérard had to declare that he had acquired the painting from “Mottart” in 1941, without it being possible to confirm his assertion.

At the time of the Allied bombings, the painting, under the title Paysage avec un lac (Landscape with lake) had probably been safeguarded at a Dr Feuchtmayer’s house in Murnau (it bears the number Murnau 3) where it was found and then transferred to the Collecting Point in Munich, where it was registered on 8 February 1946. It was sent on to France on 30 October 1946.

Retained by the 4th Selection Committee on 21 December 1949 and assigned to the Louvre, the painting was deposited in the Museum of Rouen by the decree of 29 January 1954.