Claude Monet in Antibes

Claude Monet 'Antibes, Le Fort' 1888.

Claude Monet
Signed Claude Monet and dated 88 (lower left)
Oil on canvas
25 5/8 by 32 1/8 in.
65 by 81.5 cm
Painted in 1888

This is one of the most sublime masterworks by the grand master of impressionism, Claude Monet. The extraordinary composition of colors is truly exceptional. Claude Monet's panoramic view of the Mediterranean coast and the fort of Antibes in France counts among his most spectacular series pictures from the 1880s.  In January 1888, he had set off from Paris for the South, traveling aboard a luxury train and stopping briefly in several seaside towns along the Mediterranean coast. After visiting Cassis near Marseille, the artist went to Cap d'Antibes where he would stay until the end of April. On the advice of his friend Guy de Maupassant, he took a room at the Château de la Pinède in Cap d'Antibes. In choosing to paint the Mediterranean landscape, Monet followed the tradition of several nineteenth century artists, including Cézanne, Renoir, Bazille and most importantly Manet. Claude Monet's teacher Eugène Boudin was compelled to travel to Antibes and paint its surroundings after seeing Monet's depictions of the region. In spite of the occasional strong seasonal wind that often compelled him to chain his easel to the ground, Monet managed to complete thirty-nine paintings over the course of three and a half months. Antibes, le fort is among the first of those triumphant compositions and a fitting tribute to this beautiful town along the Côte d'Azur.

Detail I of Claude Monet 'Antibes, Le Fort' 1888.

As is often the case with his travels, Claude Monet's progress throughout his stay in Antibes can be followed through the letters he regularly wrote to Alice Hoschedé. His mood and the efficiency with which he worked largely depended on the weather conditions. Some days he would be painting ceaselessly, and expressed satisfaction with his own work. In more severe weather conditions, however, his frantic activity was disrupted by rain and wind; by the time he could go back to work, he would be frustrated by the changed position of the sun that affected everything in his

Detail II of Claude Monet 'Antibes, Le Fort' 1888.

As Joachim Pissarro observed: "The status of Monet's painting in Antibes changed as fast as the weather. One day he would work 'admirably', thanks to the 'eternal and resplendent sun,' and the next a terrible wind would make work impossible. Nevertheless, Claude Monet worked relentlessly inspired by the subliminal light of the Côte d'Azur that would continue to inspire so many painters that would come after him. On February 1st, Claude Monet reported that he had 'worked all day without a break: it is definitely so beautiful, but so difficult as well'!  The quality of greatness in this work is truly exceptional.

Detail III of Claude Monet 'Antibes, Le Fort' 1888.

Credits: Sotheby's