Herbert Allen Family Donates Monet Piece

Mar 12, 2013 by

Claude Monet is often credited as the father of impressionism, the style of art characterized by thin brush strokes, everyday subject matters, and the use of light and perception. Impressionists’ bright colors appeared in stark contrast to the dull, sober colors typically found in paintings during the 19th century. Impressionism actually got its name in 1874 from Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise which critic Louis Leroy denounced as  being nothing more than a sketch or ‘impression’ on an unfinished work. In time, the masses grew to develop a liking to the impressionists’ vivid imagery, and modern depiction of daily life.

Along with Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and others, Monet and other impressionists sought to pursue a new approach to art. “The Woman in the Green Dress”, also known as “Camille” was one of the first pieces that brought Monet to the public’s attention. It featured Camille Doncieux, his future wife, in a flowing green dress contrasting a dark background. Some of his other famous works include the Rouen Cathedral series and the Houses of Parliament series highlighting the changes of the same location during different times of the day and year by using varying lighting techniques.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of the impressionist movement is Monet’s Water Lilies, a series of 250 oil paintings focusing on his flower garden in Giverny which he produced in the 1910s and 1920s. Today, these paintings are exhibited throughout the world in famous locations including the musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of the Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In November 2012, one of Monet’s water lily paintings “Nympheas” was sold for $43.7 million at a Christie’s auction along with other famous works by impressionists. The painting was sold by a private boarding school in New York, Hackley’s, which received the piece from Ethel Strong Allen, wife of the late investment banker Herb Allen. Three generations of the Allen family attended the elite prep institution, including Herb Allen’s son, Herbert Allen who graduated from Hackley in 1958.  Another painting “Studie für Improvisation 8” by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky sold for $23 million, and is believed to be the most expensive piece ever sold by the artist.

Sources: Metropolitan Museum of Art

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