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Nature-morte au faisan (Still life with pheasant)

Claude Monet

(1840 - 1926) | Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts (Inv. D.1954.5.1)

Date : Third quarter of the 19th century | Medium : Oil on canvas, 76 x 62 cm

An early work undoubtedly painted by Monet around 1861, this still life pays homage to the tradition of Chardin and, even closer, of Troyon.

The artist’s catalogue raisonné published by Daniel Wildenstein in 1974 indicates that the work was part of a “Bayen” collection that is otherwise completely unknown. This information should therefore be treated with caution. However, a blue number “8044” on the back of the canvas, preceded by a capital “D” and underlined with a recently identified arrow pointing left, certifies that the picture passed through the hands of the dealer Raphael Gérard, who was very active during the occupation.

This Monet painting was discovered after the war along with 14 other paintings in a farm belonging to a Martin Reichenwallner in Kölblöd near Munich in 1949. However, this peasant is related to Hermann Brandel, if that is actually his name, who was a spy in Belgium in the 1930s before arriving in Paris in 1940 as the head of the Wehrmacht’s purchasing offices in the Abwehr, the German intelligence services, which siphoned off a large proportion of French works for Germany. He was therefore at the head of what has been called “the Otto organisation”, where the confidentiality of legal actions goes hand in hand with fraudulent transactions willingly carried out in connection with the Parisian underworld.

The exact origin of the discovered works, which also include Monet’s Field of Poppies, another MNR work located in Rouen, has never been identified.

Following their discovery, the works were transferred to the Munich Collecting Point under American authority; the Monet was registered on 4 May 1949 before being sent to France on 3 June 1949.

Retained by the 5th Selection Committee on 25 October 1950 and assigned to the Louvre Museum by the decree of 16 May 1951, this painting was deposited in the Museum of Rouen by the decree of 29 January 1954.