Is this Painting an Investment?

When it comes to auction on 13th November, this Monet will have been sold seven times since it was painted in 1880. We track whether its owners have made a significant return.

When it is offered at Christie’s New York on 13 November, Claude Monet’s Coucher de soleil à Lavacourt will have been sold seven times since it was painted in 1880 from a spot looking West across the Seine, just beyond the artist’s garden gate.

Since then, the value of the work has changed dramatically. In 1880, Christie’s $5-7 million estimate would have been inconceivable for Monet, who had suffered years of poor sales and been rejeced by Paris's prestigious Salon. Disillusioned by group politics, he had also distanced himself from the Impressionists, working alone in the countryside at Vertheuil, far from his native Paris.

Monet's decision to abandon urban life was, in part, a response to his commercial demise. Though he had spent time in Paris and, later, the bustling suburb of Argenteuil, by 1880, his income had dropped by almost half, rendering the cost of city living unsustainable. His wife Camille was also struck by illness following the birth of their second son, and the countryside promised a calmer setting for her rest and eventual recovery.

Camille's recovery, however, never came, and she died in September 1879 — just months before this work was completed. The winter that followed was particularly severe, gripping France in a chill that saw temperatures plummet below zero, and caused the Seine to freeze, thaw, and then flood the land around it. Throughout, Monet recorded the changing landscape: working with hot waterbottles strapped to his hands and feet, he captured the evening light as it dwindled, creating paintings that appeared to echo his mourning.

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