Items from Claude Monet’s personal collection kept by the artist’s family are to be sold at auction. The items were owned by the artist’s son, Michel, who died in 1966. He left almost everything to France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts and its Marmottan Museum. But he had also gifted many items to a daughter he had and had not formally recognised, Rolande Verneiges. When Verneiges died in 2008 many of the items were kept at the family home of her descendent. Finally, about 3 years ago, Adrien Meyer, co-chair of Christie’s impressionist and modern art department was invited to the Verneiges descendent family home and discovered the hidden trove tucked away in drawers and cardboard boxes.
The items that comprise the collection include artworks by Monet as well as his friends, for instance Édouard Manet, Auguste Rodin and Paul Signac, as well as Japanese prints that the artist owned and was inspired by. Some personal items are also included, such as photographs, a pair of his spectacles and a terracotta pot that the artist has included in several of his paintings. The collection also includes an early example from Monet’s series of views of poplar trees, most of which are in museums. Another significant and valuable artwork is a watercolour by Rodin of Salome.
The artworks by Monet are known by the art world and are included in the catalogue raisonné, since they were owned by Michel, but no one knew where they were until now. According to Meyer, Verneiges was “a very modest and discreet woman” and the fact that the pieces are offered at auction for the first time is an honour. He also said that the collection “encapsulates the magic of the man”.
The auction will be held in Hong Kong on 26 November, but it will be previously displayed in London for a week starting on 30 September. It will also be the first time an auction is transmitted live to Christie’s Paris saleroom, where European buyers can bid.