Camille Monet (1847–1879) on a Garden Bench

Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny)

Oil on canvas
23 7/8 x 31 5/8 in. (60.6 x 80.3 cm)
Credit Line:
The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 2002, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Monet’s wife, Camille Doncieux, is as easily identifiable here as the mounds of geraniums in the garden of the couple’s house at Argenteuil. The same is true of her smart ensemble: the velvet and damask outfit closely resembles the look for spring 1873, as advertised in the March issue of the fashion periodical La Mode Illustré. Less clear is the nature of this enigmatic scene. Painted the year Camille’s father died, she telegraphs sadness while holding a note in her gloved hand. The tophatted gentleman, later identified as a neighbor, has perhaps called to offer his condolences and a consoling bouquet.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower right): Claude Monet

  • Provenance

    [Bruno and Paul Cassirer, Berlin, until 1900; sold for approx. 10,000 marks to Arnhold]; Eduard Arnhold, Berlin (1900–d. 1925); his widow, Johanna Arnhold, née Arnthal, Berlin (1925–d. 1929); their daughter, Mrs. Carl (Elisabeth, called Else) Clewing, formerly Mrs. Erich Kuhnheim (widowed), Berlin (from 1929); Peter Gutzwiller, Basel (about 1947); [Knoedler, New York]; Edwin Vogel, New York; [Sam Salz, New York, until 1955; sold to Ittleson]; Henry Ittleson Jr., New York (1955–d. 1973; sold by his heirs in 1974 to Acquavella); [Acquavella Galleries, New York, 1974; sold to Lefevre]; [Alex Reid & Lefevre, London, 1974; sold on September 2 to Annenberg]; Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, Calif. (1974–2002; jointly with MMA, 2002–his d. 2002)

  • Exhibition History

    Berlin. Paul Cassirer. "Siebenten Kunstaustellung der Berliner Secession," 1903, no. 142 (as "Auf der Bank").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "New York Collects," July 3–September 2, 1968, no. 113 (as "On a Bench in the Park," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson, Jr, Ittleson collection).

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 21–September 17, 1989, unnumbered cat. (as "Camille Monet on a Garden Bench [The Bench]").

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 6–August 5, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," August 16–November 11, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," June 4–October 13, 1991, unnumbered cat.

  • References

    Durand-Ruel. Letter to H. von Tschudi. August 1, 1908, identifies the couple in this picture as Camille Monet and Eugène Manet, and dates it 1875.

    Max von Boehn and Oskar Fischel Grace Rhys in Modes & Manners of the Nineteenth Century. London, 1909, vol. 3, ill. p. 116.

    Richard Muther. Geschichte der Malerei. Leipzig, 1909, vol. 3, p. 230, ill.

    Hugo von Tschudi. "Die Sammlung Arnhold." Kunst und Künstler 7 (1909), p. 100, identifies the figures in this painting as Monet's first wife and Manet's brother, Eugène.

    Claude Monet. Letter to Georges Durand-Ruel. June 7, 1921 [published by Lionello Venturi, "Les Archives de l'Impressionisme," vol. 1, Paris, 1939, p. 458, no. 397], states that it was executed in 1872 at Argenteuil and identifies the sitters as his first wife and a neighbor.

    Marie Dormoy. "La collection Arnhold." L'Amour de l'art 7 (July 1926), pp. 243–44, ill.

    John Rewald. The History of Impressionism. rev., enl. ed. New York, 1961, p. 283, ill. (color).

    Max Tau. Das Land das ich verlassen mußte. Hamburg, 1961, p. 160, recalls seeing this picture at Bruno Cassirer's home at Branitzer Platz 1, Berlin.

    Gerald Needham. "The Paintings of Claude Monet, 1859–1878." PhD diss., New York University, 1971, pp. 245–48, fig. 73.

    Daniel Wildenstein. "1840–1881: Peintures." Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. 1, Lausanne, 1974, pp. 65, 234–35, no. 281, ill.

    Douglas Cooper. Alex Reid & Lefevre 1926–1976. [London], 1976, pp. 52–53, ill. (color).

    Joel Isaacson. Observation and Reflection: Claude Monet. Oxford, 1978, pp. 20, 208, colorpl. 50, suggests that Camille's partially black attire is worn for her father, Charles-Claude Doncieux, who died on September 22, 1873, and that the picture may date from the following spring or June of 1874, when a daughter would wear half-black in the second half of her year of mourning; adds that the bouquet may also be associated with the etiquette of mourning; comments that in popular illustrations, a standing man leaning over a seated woman almost always signified flirtation or amorous conversation.

    Paul Hayes Tucker. Monet at Argenteuil. New Haven, 1982, pp. 134–35, 138–39, fig. 109, observes that Camille exhibits "urban reserve" and the viewer seems to intrude on the scene; comments that the hints of boredom and loneliness may reflect the domestic difficulties experienced by urbanites in the country or indicate Monet's own troubled marriage.

    Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge. Monet. New York, 1983, pp. 44, 85, 88, ill. pp. 45 (installation photo), 82 (color), call it as close as Monet came to the "modern conversation piece"; reproduce a photograph of it hanging in Arnhold's home.

    Horst Keller. Claude Monet. Munich, 1985, pl. 40.

    John House. Monet: Nature into Art. New Haven, 1986, p. 34, colorpl. 43, rejects autobiographical readings of it, adding that its meaning should be interpreted within the expectations of contemporary genre scenes; considers the deliberate lack of clues to be an endorsement of "more open-ended, ambiguous images of human relationships".

    Nicolaas Teeuwisse. Vom Salon zur Secession: Berliner Kunstleben zwischen Tradition und Aufbruch zur Moderne, 1871–1900. Berlin, 1986, pp. 223, 306 n. 531.

    Robert L. Herbert. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven, 1988, pp. 180, 182, 259, colorpl. 182.

    Barbara Paul. "Drei Sammlungen französischer impressionister Kunst im kaiserlichen Berlin - Bernstein, Liebermann, Arnhold." Zeitschrift des Deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft 42 (1988), pp. 22, 29 n. 77, fig. 10 (installation photo).

    Colin B. Bailey. "La Collection Annenberg." L'Oeil nos. 408–9 (July–August 1989), pp. 41–42, fig. 3 (color).

    Josef Kern Universität Würzburg. Impressionismus im Wilhelminischen Deutschland: Studien zur Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte des Kaiserreichs. Würzburg, 1989, pp. 155, 288 n. 579.

    Colin B. Bailey in Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, pp. 48–51, 160–61, 163, ill. (color, black and white, and installation photo), calls it "Camille Monet on a Garden Bench (The Bench)," dates it 1873, and characterizes it as "one of the most enigmatic and disconcerting works in Monet's oeuvre"; notes that the depicted garden was two thousand square meters and sees this painting as a statement of Monet's recent affluence as a member of the provincial bourgeoisie; comments that Camille's costume is very fashionable and relates it to an advertisement in "La Mode illustré" of March 1873; observes that "Camille in the Garden with Jean and His Nurse" (private collection, Switzerland; W280) is the same size and portrays the same spot in the garden, suggesting that both were painted within days of one another and meant to be pendants.

    Jérôme Coignard. "Le Salon de peinture de Mr. et Mrs. Annenberg." Beaux arts no. 92 (July–August 1991), p. 69.

    Gary Tinterow. "Miracle au Met." Connaissance des arts no. 472 (June 1991), pp. 33, 36, ill. (color).

    Daniel Wildenstein. "Supplément aux peintures; dessins, pastels, index." Claude Monet: Catalogue raisonné. 5, Lausanne, 1991, p. 28, no. 281.

    Virginia Spate. Claude Monet: Life and Work. New York, 1992, pp. 108, 112, ill. p. 109, remarks that interpreting it in terms of Monet's marriage misses "the point of his determined anti-narrativity".

    Marianne Alphant. Claude Monet: Une vie dans le paysage. [Paris], 1993, p. 252.

    Marie Simon. Fashion in Art: The Second Empire and Impressionism. London, 1995, pp. 217–19, 221, ill. (color, overall and detail).

    Paul Hayes Tucker. Claude Monet: Life and Art. New Haven, 1995, pp. 86, 230 n. 41, colorpl. 93.

    Daniel Wildenstein. Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism. 1, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 103, ill. p. 99 (color).

    Daniel Wildenstein. "Catalogue raisonné–Werkverzeichnis: Nos. 1–968." Monet. 2, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 120, no. 281, ill. (color), identifies the man as Eugène Manet, based on Ref. Durand-Ruel 1908.

    Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Art News 97 (May 1998), pp. 148–49, ill. (color).

    T. J. Clark. The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers. revised ed. (lst ed. 1984). Princeton, 1999, pp. 195, 303 n. 52, fig. 91.

    Michael Dorrmann in Die Moderne und ihre Sammler: Französische Kunst in Deutschem Privatbesitz vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik. Berlin, 2001, pp. 29, 35, fig. 5 (installation photo).

    Rose-Marie Hagen and Rainer Hagen. "Bildbefragung: Die Bank." Art (August 2001), pp. 5, 72–77, ill. (color, overall and details), identify the man as Eugène Manet, noting that Edouard Manet often visited the Monets, accompanied by his brother; remark upon Eugène's good nature, indicated by a grin behind the beard.

    Michael Dorrmann Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Eduard Arnhold (1849–1925): Eine biographische Studie zu Unternehmer- und Mäzenatentum im Deutschen Kaiserreich. Berlin, 2002, pp. 130, 347, no. A46.

    Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2001–2002." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Fall 2002), pp. 5, 30, ill. (color), notes that Monet's art is autobiographical and here also an indicator of the season, weather, and women's fashions; calls it "the most enigmatic of Monet's rare genre pictures".

    Catherine Hug Monika Leonhardt in Monet's Garden. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany, 2004, p. 116.

    Clare A. P. Willsdon. In the Gardens of Impressionism. New York, 2004, pp. 132, 134–35, 147–48, 174, colorpl. 141, interprets it as a narrative about Camille's mourning for her recently deceased father; calls the man a neighbor and "surely Monet's alter ego, externalizing his helpless inability to penetrate his wife's grief" and suggests that the woman in the background represents "the true Camille whom Monet seems to try through his painting to regain"; asserts that the bouquet of flowers on the bench symbolizes a defiance of death.

    Dorothee Hansen in Monet und "Camille": Frauenportraits im Impressionismus. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Bremen. Munich, 2005, pp. 32–33, 187 no. 13 n. 9, p. 188, no. 14 n. 1, ill. (color) [English ed., Bremen, 2005, p. 29 n. 9, p. 31 n. 1].

    Rahel E. Feilchenfeldt in Ein Fest der Künste: Paul Cassirer, Der Kunsthändler als Verleger. 2nd ed. Munich, 2006, p. 22.

    John House in Women in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, pp. 160–61, fig. 125 (color).

    John House in The Painter's Garden: Design, Inspiration, Delight. Exh. cat., Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2006, p. 193, fig. 6 (color), remarks that Monet intended to create an ambiguous genre scene.

    Hugues Wilhelm in Women in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, p. 303 n. 13, asserts that the man in this picture is Gustave Manet, not Eugène.

    Joseph Baillio and Cora Michael in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, p. 214 n. 35.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 139, 282, no. 128, ill. (color and black and white).

    Eric M. Zafran in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, p. 130.

    Colin B. Bailey in Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, pp. 59–70, 74, no. 13, ill. (color).

    R[ichard]. S[hone]. "Supplement: Acquisitions (2000–10) of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York." Burlington Magazine 152 (December 2010), p. 841, fig. VII (color).

  • Notes

    This picture may have been intended as a pendant to "Camille in the Garden with Jean and his Nurse" of 1873 (private collection, Switzerland; W280).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History