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The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil, 1881

Claude Monet
French, 1840-1926
Oil on canvas
39-1/2 x 32 in. (100.3 x 81.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1975.09.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

The years that Monet spent at a rented pink house in Vétheuil were among the most difficult of his life. The market for his work had collapsed; his wife fell ill and died; his servants all quit. And yet the pictures he painted there, in his lush, sunny garden conceived as an outdoor studio, are among the most exuberant of his career. This view of a path shaded by sunflowers and punctuated with gladioli was one of four studies of the scene that Monet made in the early 1880s. The Norton Simon’s version has long been thought to serve as a preparatory sketch for the largest canvas, today in the collection of the National Gallery of Art. However the artist’s comparatively tight, confident brushwork in this painting—particularly in the handling of the sky and clouds—suggests that it is a more fully realized reduction of the National Gallery’s composition, perhaps made with a bourgeois buyer in mind.

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