Monet’s Nymphéas or Water Lilies are among his most recognized images. He actually painted more than 200 variations of them at his home in Giverny. Interestingly, many were painted while the artist’s eyesight was greatly hindered by cataracts.
For a short time, a triptych of Nymphéas is on view at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO. It is a rare reunion of this three part portrayal of one of Monet’s own beloved subjects. In fact, it is the first time the three have been displayed together in 30 years. After their time at Nelson Atkins, they will find another temporary home at the St. Louis Museum of Art this fall. One of my favorite art current event sites, Artdaily, has an excellent article detailing the exhibit.
It is interesting to contrast the excitement over this reunion with a disappointing auction appearance by another version of Monet’s Nymphéas last June. The upper echelons of the art world were aghast when one of them went unsold at auction last June at Christie’s London. In fact, it was remarked to be one of the biggest disappointments of the 2010 auction season.
The unsold work was rather prestigious within Monet’s oeuvre having been shown at the famous 1909 exhibition in Paris where his studies of the effects of light in his Giverny garden won critical acclaim. It was expected to fetch about $60 million. Bidding went up to about $46 million but even this amount was not enough to meet the reserve. This means Christie’s lost out on a 12% buyers premium fee as well as a sellers commission. We won’t feel too bad for the folks at Christie’s though. They made a haul in New York the month before when Picasso’s Nude with Green Leaves set an all-time auction record for a painting when it sold for $106 million.