Claude Monet painting sells for record $110.7M at auction

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Monet's 'Meules': $110.7 million

The French painter Claude Monet created multiple landscape series that depict the same subject in different types of light and seasons, showing off his ability to capture atmosphere. The painting "Meules" (1890), from his "Haystacks" series, fetched $110.7 million (€98 million) at a Soethby's auction — the record for a Monet and the first impressionist painting to cross the $100-million threshold.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi': $450.3 million

Created around 1500, this painting of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci is one of the master's 20 still existing paintings. In 1958 "Salvator Mundi" was sold for just $60 because it was thought to be a copy. But it fetched more than four times Christie's pre-sale estimate on November 15, 2017, when it was sold for over $450 million (€382 million) — setting a world record for auctioned art.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Picasso's 'Women of Algiers': $179.4 million

From 1954-55, Pablo Picasso did a series of 15 paintings inspired by Delacroix's "Les Femmes d'Alger," with versions named "A" through "O." He started them after the death of Henry Matisse, as a tribute to his friend and artistic rival. "Version O" broke the world record for an auction sale, selling for $179.4 million (167.1 million euros) at Christie's in May 2015.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Modigliani's 'Reclining Nude': $170.4 million

At a Christie's auction held in November 2015, seven potential buyers spent nine frantic minutes bidding on this painting. It was finally snapped by a telephone bidder from China. The nude, painted in 1917-18, provoked a scandal at its first exhibition in Paris. The police shut down the art show after a crowd gathered outside the window.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Modigliani's 'Nude lying on her left side': $157.2 million

Modigliani's work "Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)" caused such a controversy when it was first shown in Paris in 1917 that the police had to close the exhibition. The Italian artist's oil painting became the most expensive artwork to have been sold at New York auction house Sotheby's in May 2018.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Klimt's 'The Woman in Gold': $135 million

This 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt is considered one of the most elaborate and representative of his "golden phase." In 2006, it was sold through a private sale brokered by Christie's for a record sum for a painting, $135 million. That same year, Jackson Pollock's classic drip painting "No. 5 1948" broke that record, obtaining $140 million through another private sale.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Van Gogh's 'Portrait of Dr. Gachet': $149.7 million

Van Gogh allegedly said of the homeopathic doctor Dr. Gachet, whom he painted here in 1890, that "he was sicker than I am." The plant is a foxglove, which is used to make the drug digitalis. In 1990, the work was auctioned off to Ryoei Saito, Japan's second-largest paper manufacturer, for $82.5 million, making it the world's priciest painting at the time (the price above has been adjusted).

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Bacon's 'Three Studies of Lucian Freud': $142.4 million

This 1969 triptych documents Francis Bacon's friendship and rivalry with fellow painter Lucian Freud. At the time it was sold, in November 2013, it obtained the highest price for a work of art at an auction, until Picasso - and now Modigliani - surpassed that record in 2015.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Renoir's 'Dance at Moulin de la Galette': $141.7 million

This 1876 work by Impressionist master Renoir depicts a dance venue for high society on the outskirts of Paris, the Moulin de la Galette. One of Renoir's most famous works, it exudes the joie de vivre that is characteristic of his style. In 1990, the work was purchased for $78.1 million (adjusted price above) by Japanese buyer Ryoei Saito, along with van Gogh's "Portrait of Dr. Gachet."

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Picasso's 'Boy with a Pipe': $130.7 million

This portrait of an adolescent holding a pipe and wearing a garland of flowers in his hair was created during the Spanish master's "Rose Period" in 1905. Just a little under a century later, the painting fetched an impressive sum of $104.2 million at a Sotheby's auction in 2004 (price adjusted above).

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Munch's 'The Scream': $119.9 million

This agonizing character painted by Edvard Munch is one of the most iconic paintings in the world. The Expressionist artist had actually made four versions of it: Three are in Norwegian museums, and the fourth one was sold for the screeching price of $119.9 million in May 2012 at Sotheby's, which would be adjusted to $130.7 million today.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Picasso's 'Young Girl with a Flower Basket': $115 million

Picasso is well represented among the highest earning painters. His 1905 masterpiece "Fillette a la corbeille fleurie" ("Young Girl with a Flower Basket") was sold – along with two other Rose Period paintings – by the artist himself to writer Gertrude Stein in a sale that helped launch his career. The work, which was later part of David and Peggy Rockefeller's collection, sold for $115 million.

Most expensive artworks sold at auction

Picasso's 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust': $106.5 million

Inspired by his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walther, Picasso created this painting in a single day in 1932. If you add the eight minutes and six seconds it took for the auction record bid at Christie's in May 2010, it still appears to be well-invested time. Its price could be adjusted to $115.7 million today.

An iconic painting from Impressionist artist Claude Monet's "Haystacks" series has been sold for a record price at auction in New York. The former owners paid $2.53 million for the work in 1986.

A painting from Claude Monet's acclaimed "Haystacks" series has sold for a record $110.7 million (about €98 million) at a Sotheby's auction in New York.

The auction house said the sale of the painting titled "Meules" was a world auction record for Monet, who was known for his landscape paintings. It is also the first work of Impressionist art to cross the $100-million threshold at auction.

Seven bidders fought it out over eight minutes for "Meules" before reaching the final price.

Read more: Claude Monet, a master of color, light and shadow

A rare find

The oil on canvas was completed in 1890 and is one of only four works from the "Haystacks" series to be auctioned this century. It is one of only eight examples belonging to private owners.

The 17 others belong to museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The "Haystacks" series depicts stacks of harvested wheat belonging to Monet's neighbor in Giverny, in France's Normandy region.

The works are widely celebrated for capturing the play of light on his subject and for their influence on the Impressionist movement.

Read more: Colonial art restitution: 'The desire is not to wipe museums clean'

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

A cottage on a rock

Like many other of Claude Monet's works, this 1882 painting depicting a cottage is dominated by water. The sea is rough, and the wind blows through the bushes surrounding the modest hut. The colors are earthy and heavy. But Monet's brush works quickly, eternalizing a fleeting moment in nature.

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

The master in a bowler hat

Claude Monet, born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, already started at an early age to work with light and color. Concrete themes increasingly lost importance giving way to abstract images. He got together with other artists and set up his brush and easel in open spaces. In 1865, he was permitted to show his first painting in the Salon de Paris, which was a great honor.

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

Love for the Mediterranean landscape

In the 19th century, Bordighera in Liguria was highly poular among artists. Like many others, Claude Monet traveled to the town on the Italian Mediterranean in 1884 to spend three months there. "One would need a palette of diamonds and jewels. As far as blue and pink go - they exist here," he wrote about his stay, during which he created numerous paintings, among them "Vue de Bordighera" (1884).

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

As the sun sets on the Seine

In this painting ("Sunset on the Seine in Winter") the light above the River Seine slowly vanishes and the sun appears as a tiny orange ball on the horizon. The weather and its effects on nature is a prominent theme of Monet's. Over and over again, he studied the changes of light on plants and water. The reflections of a sunset on the Seine bring about a romantic atmosphere.

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

Double take

Monet's stepdaughters Germaine, Suzanne und Blanche are seen fishing on a glassy lake. Due to the wood it was made from, their boat was called a "norvégienne" - which also lent the painting its title, "In the Norvégienne." The borders between colors and motives blend, and the foreground and background vanish into each other. The painting was praised for its tranquillity and beauty.

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

Fog on the Thames

Monet creates magical landscapes that depict motives like flowery meadows, haystacks, cathedrals and bridges in the mist - like here where the Charing Cross Bridge crosses the River Thames in London. Monet wanted to eternalize his own feelings during a given moment in his work. The location itself seems to disintegrate.

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

Sunset over London's Houses of Parliament

Monet painted the Houses of Parliament Westminster while sitting on the terrace of St. Thomas' Hospital in London. By depicting the changing light and the fog, he conveyed a mysterious aura on the imposing structure. Once again, the river and the fog are conveyed as a blurred shadow of color.

Claude Monet, a precursor of modernity

An island in violet light

Here, the motif vanishes altogether. The borders between trees, clouds and their reflection in the water are no longer discernible. Monet painted this view of the Seine island Orties in Giverny in 1897. That's where he owned an estate with the famous pond covered with lilies. He rowed to the middle of the Seine where he worked on up to 14 canvasses at once, studying the different times of the day.

Sellers paid just $2.53M

Sotheby's said the painting was acquired by wealthy Chicago socialites directly from Monet's dealer in the 1890s and remained in the family until it was bought at auction in 1986 by the present sellers for $2.53 million.

Sotheby's did not provide any details on the new buyer.

The sale of 55 Impressionist and modern artworks at Sotheby's brought in just under $350 million, with the second-highest selling item, a painting by Pablo Picasso, selling for $20.7 million.

Monet and the impressionists

Springboard "Salon de Paris"

Until 1874 French artists only had one way to present their art to a wide audience: by submitting works to the "Salon de Paris." A jury would then decide which pieces were approved, and which weren't. After having their work continually rejected, a group of 30 artists - including Renoir, Monet, Cézanne and Sisley - broke away and organized their own exhibition.

Monet and the impressionists

Paris, the art metropolis

The group organized eight independent exhibitions up to 1886, where many artworks were sold. The young artists hoped to free themselves and their work from France's state-controlled art market. The exhibitions were major events in the rapidly-changing metropolis of Paris, then the center of the art world.

Monet and the impressionists

Back to nature

The impressionists were landscape painters. To transfer their impressions as true as possible to canvas and to exactly replicate natural light conditions, they painted directly in nature. One popular spot and motif for these young painters - including Claude Monet - was Fontainebleau forest, south of Paris.

Monet and the impressionists

Light and color

The artists developed an entirely new understanding and concept of art. In a departure from classicism, they treated color and light with greater importance than line and symmetry. In his painting "The Peach Glass" from 1866, Monet explores the various effects of fruit: in a glass jar, on a marble tabletop and in the reflection.

Monet and the impressionists

Role model Manet

Although Édouard Manet's works were never included in the popular impressionist exhibitions, his influence on the artists - especially on Monet - is indisputable. Manet befriended the impressionists but didn't include himself in their ranks. Eight years older than Monet, he created a number of motifs that the younger artist used as models.

Monet and the impressionists

Scandalous picture

Considered the young Monet's most significant work, "The Luncheon" was a scandal. It was more than two meters high, a format traditionally reserved for historical painting. And it depicted an everyday scene that included Monet's girlfriend Camille and their illegitimate son - an unapologetic affront in the bourgeois France of 1869.

Monet and the impressionists

New motifs

At first glance, smoke is the only thing one can discern here. Monet's "Saint-Lazare Station" shows industrial change in the 19th century. Rather than using mythological or religious motifs, impressionists sourced their subjects from their immediate environment. Their motifs center on nature and everyday life.

Monet and the impressionists

Joie de vivre àl la Renoir

Not all impressionist painters focused exclusively on landscapes or the industrial revolution in big cities. Auguste Renoir's paintings showed life in high society and the privileged existence of the upper class: ladies in orchestra pits and theater boxes, or - here - simply strolling gracefully with an umbrella in the garden.

Monet and the impressionists

Mood over matter

The importance of the subject diminishes further with Monet over the years - instead he emphasizes the atmosphere of a particular scene. The Saint-Lazare train station seems to almost disappear in this painting of 1877. Instead, fog and smoke red and blue hues dominate Monet's impression of the station building.

Monet and the impressionists

Paris in Frankfurt

The Städel Museum was the first in Germany to purchase French impressionist art and has built up an impressive collection since 1899. The current exhibition displays around 100 works from museums around the world, including Pissaro's "Rue de Gisors." The exhibition runs until June 21, 2015.

law/cmk (AP, dpa, Reuters)

Every evening, DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.