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.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Claude Monet
[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); [Fine Arts Associates, New York, until 1949; sold in May to Knoedler]; [Knoedler, New York, 1949; stock no. A-4184, as "Dans un parc"; sold on May 16 to Vogel]; Edwin Vogel, New York (from 1949); [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)
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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity," February 26–May 7, 2013, no. 83.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
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 inModes & Manners of the Nineteenth Century. London, 1909, vol. 3, ill. p. 116.
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.
Richard Muther. Geschichte der Malerei. Leipzig, 1909, vol. 3, p. 230, ill.
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. Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. Vol. 1, 1840–1881: Peintures. 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. Impressionismus im Wilhelminischen Deutschland: Studien zur Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte des Kaiserreichs. PhD diss., Universität Würzburg. Würzburg, 1989, pp. 155, 288 n. 579.
Colin B. Bailey inMasterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. 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.
Gary Tinterow. "Miracle au Met." Connaissance des arts no. 472 (June 1991), pp. 33, 36, ill. (color).
Daniel Wildenstein. Claude Monet: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 5, Supplément aux peintures; dessins, pastels, index. Lausanne, 1991, p. 28, no. 281.
Jérôme Coignard. "Le Salon de peinture de Mr. et Mrs. Annenberg." Beaux arts no. 92 (July–August 1991), p. 69.
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.
Paul Hayes Tucker. Claude Monet: Life and Art. New Haven, 1995, pp. 86, 230 n. 41, colorpl. 93.
Marie Simon. Fashion in Art: The Second Empire and Impressionism. London, 1995, pp. 217–19, 221, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Daniel Wildenstein. Monet. Vol. 2, Catalogue raisonné–Werkverzeichnis: Nos. 1–968. 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 120, no. 281, ill. (color), identifies the man as Eugène Manet, based on Ref. Durand-Ruel 1908.
Daniel Wildenstein. Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism. Vol. 1, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 103, ill. p. 99 (color).
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.
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 inDie Moderne und ihre Sammler: Französische Kunst in Deutschem Privatbesitz vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik. Ed. Andrea Pophanken and Felix Billeter. Berlin, 2001, pp. 27, 29, 35, 38 n. 26, p. 40 n. 58, fig. 5 (installation photo), states that it was among the paintings by Manet and Monet in Arnhold's collection that convincingly portray happy moments of bourgeois leisure time through their play of light and color; notes that the existence of such pictures in his collection contributed to Arnhold's position as a key advocate for Impressionism in Germany; reproduces an installation photograph of it in Arnhold's collection.
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".
Michael Dorrmann. Eduard Arnhold (1849–1925): Eine biographische Studie zu Unternehmer- und Mäzenatentum im Deutschen Kaiserreich. PhD diss., Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Berlin, 2002, pp. 130, 347, no. A46.
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 inMonet und "Camille": Frauenportraits im Impressionismus. Ed. Dorothee Hansen and Wulf Herzogenrath. 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 inEin Fest der Künste: Paul Cassirer, Der Kunsthändler als Verleger. Ed. Rahel E. Feilchenfeldt and Thomas Raff. 2nd ed. Munich, 2006, p. 22.
John House inThe Painter's Garden: Design, Inspiration, Delight. Ed. Sabine Schulze. Exh. cat., Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2006, p. 193, fig. 6 (color), remarks that Monet intended to create an ambiguous genre scene.
John House inWomen in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Ed. Sidsel Maria Søndergaard. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, pp. 160–61, fig. 125 (color).
Hugues Wilhelm inWomen in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Ed. Sidsel Maria Søndergaard. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, p. 303 n. 13, asserts that the man in this picture is Gustave Manet, not Eugène.
Eric M. Zafran inClaude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, p. 130.
Joseph Baillio and Cora Michael inClaude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, p. 214 n. 35.
Ruth Butler. Hidden in the Shadow of the Master: The Model-Wives of Cézanne, Monet, and Rodin. New Haven, 2008, pp. 160–62, ill., states that the background view to red geraniums and a house being built beyond a hedge is the same background as in "Monet's Family in the Garden" (also called "Camille in the Garden with Jean and his Nanny," Bührle collection, Zürich), noting that the house depicted is on the adjoining lot to the Monets' and that Monet moved his easel to the right for the MMA picture; indicates that Camille wears the same black toque with a white flower and white gloves in both paintings; calls her dress "the latest Parisian design"; sees the picture as Monet's attempt at a "modern conversation piece" in line with literary trends following upon criticism of contemporary painters by Émile Zola and others; states that the top-hatted male model was the artist's brother Gustave Manet and attributes this identification to a letter in the Durand-Ruel archives.
Colin B. Bailey inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 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).
Gloria Groom inImpressionism, Fashion, & Modernity. Ed. Gloria Groom. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Chicago, 2012, pp. 171–72, ill. (color) [French ed., "L'Impressionnisme et la Mode," Paris, 2012, p. 48, ill. p. 58 (color)], compares it to Berthe Morisot's "On the Balcony" (private collection) and the nurse in the background to the female figure in white in the background of Monet's "The Lunch: Decorative Panel" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris); notes the bench as indicative of a public park as opposed to the domestic garden discussed in Butler 2008 and earlier.
Impressionism, Fashion, & Modernity. Ed. Gloria Groom. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Chicago, 2012, p. 287, no. 83, ill. (color) [French ed., "L'Impressionnisme et la Mode," Paris, 2012, p. 300, no. 27].
Marie-Louis Schembri and L. M. Boring inMonet et Renoir Côte à Côte à la Grenouillère. Exh. cat., Musée de la Grenouillère. Croissy-sur-Seine, 2012, pp. 58, 60, ill. p. 58 (installation photograph of Arnhold villa, Wannsee).
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 441, no. 372, ill. pp. 378, 441 (color).
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).