About This Artwork

Claude Monet
French, 1840-1926

Water Lilies, 1906

Oil on canvas
89.9 x 94.1 cm (35 3/8 x 37 1/16 in.)
Inscribed at lower right: Claude Monet 1906

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1157



"One instant, one aspect of nature contains it all," said Claude Monet, referring to his late masterpieces, the water landscapes that he produced at his home in Giverny between 1897 and his death in 1926. These works replaced the varied contemporary subjects he had painted from the 1870s through the 1890s with a single, timeless motif—water lilies. The focal point of these paintings was the artist’s beloved flower garden, which featured a water garden and a smaller pond spanned by a Japanese footbridge. In his first water-lily series (1897–99), Monet painted the pond environment, with its water lilies, bridge, and trees neatly divided by a fixed horizon. Over time, the artist became less and less concerned with conventional pictorial space. By the time he painted Water Lilies, which comes from his third group of these works, he had dispensed with the horizon line altogether. In this spatially ambiguous canvas, the artist looked down, focusing solely on the surface of the pond, with its cluster of plants floating amidst the reflection of sky and trees. Monet thus created the image of a horizontal surface on a vertical one. Four years later, he further transcended the conventional boundaries of easel painting and began to make immense, unified compositions whose complex and densely painted surfaces seem to merge with the water.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 232.

This work is featured in the online catalogue Monet Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, the first volume in the Art Institute’s scholarly digital series on the Impressionist circle. The catalogue offers in-depth curatorial and technical entries on 47 artworks by Claude Monet in the museum’s collection; entries feature interactive and layered high-resolution imaging, previously unpublished technical photographs, archival materials, and documentation relating to each artwork.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Galeries Durand-Ruel, Les nymphéas: Séries de paysages d’eau par Claude Monet, May 6–June 5, 1909, cat. 15, as Série 1906.

Saint Louis, Noonan-Kocian Gallery, Tableaux Durand-Ruel (circuit exhibition, held Oct. 1911–Jan. 1912); Chicago, Auditorium Hotel; Cincinnati, no cat. no.

Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Nov. 7–Dec. 12, 1937, cat. 16 (ill.).

Bloomington, Ill., Scottish Rite Temple, Central Illinois Art Exposition, Mar. 19–Apr. 8, 1939, cat. 26.

Chicago, Arts Club of Chicago, Origins of Modern Art, Apr. 2–30, 1940, cat. 63.

Sioux City (Iowa) Art Center, Three Old Masters from Art Institute of Chicago, Sept. 4–end Sept. 1949, no cat.

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, An Experimental Gallery Featuring the Art Historical Background to Impressionism, Oct. 12, 1953–Mar. 31, 1954, no cat.

Wichita (Kans.) Art Museum, Three Centuries of French Painting, May 9–23, 1954, cat. 17.

University of Chicago, Renaissance Society, Painters in Color, Oct. 14–Nov. 14, 1956, no cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, The Paintings of Claude Monet, Apr. 1–June 15, 1957, no cat. no.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Monet, Mar. 15–May 11, 1975, cat. 110 (ill.).

Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27–Aug. 31, 1980, cat. 15 (ill.).

Highland Park, Ill., Neison Harris, July 12–Dec. 19, 1984, no cat.

Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, Shikago bijutsukan insho-ha ten [The impressionist tradition: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago], Oct. 18–Dec. 17, 1985, cat. 64 (ill.); Fukuoka Art Museum, Jan. 5–Feb. 2, 1986; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Mar. 4–Apr. 13, 1986.

Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, Claude Monet: Nymphéas, July 20–Oct. 19, 1986, cat. 22 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago’s Dream, a World’s Treasure: The Art Institute of Chicago 1893–1993, Nov. 1–Jan. 9, 1994, no cat. no.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Claude Monet 1840–1926, July 22–Nov. 26, 1995, cat. 130 (ill.).

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Monet in the 20th Century, Sept. 20–Dec. 27, 1998, cat. 32 (ill.); London, Royal Academy of Arts, Jan. 23–Apr. 18, 1999.

Paris, Musée National de l’Orangerie, Monet: Le cycle des Nymphéas, May 6–Aug. 2, 1999, cat. 15 (ill.).

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–Nov. 2, 2008, cat. 91 (ill.).

Publication History

Galeries Durand-Ruel, Les nymphéas, séries de paysages d’eau par Claude Monet, exh. cat. (Galeries Durand-Ruel, 1909), cat. 15.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1925), p. 162, cat. 2139.

Gustave Geffroy, “Claude Monet,” L’art et les artistes 2, 11 (Nov. 1920), p. 73 (ill.).

M. C., “Monets in the Art Institute,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 19, 2 (Feb. 1925), p. 20.

Daniel Catton Rich, “Französische Impressionisten im Art Institute zu Chicago,” Pantheon: Monatsschrift für freunde und sammler der kunst 11, 3 (Mar. 1933), p. 77. Translated by C. C. H. Drechsel as “French Impressionists in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Pantheon/Cicerone (Mar. 1933), p. 18.

Toledo Museum of Art, Catalogue: Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists (Toledo Museum of Art, 1937), cat. 16 (ill.).

George Slocombe, “Giver of Light,” Coronet (Mar. 1938), p. 26 (ill.).

Scottish Rite Temple, Central Illinois Art Exposition, exh. cat. (Scottish Rite Temple, 1939), p. 13, cat. 26.

Arts Club of Chicago, Origins of Modern Art, exh. cat. (Arts Club of Chicago, 1940), p. 15, cat. 63.

Oscar Reuterswärd, Monet: En konstnärshistorik (Bonniers, 1948), p. 288.

Wichita Art Museum, Three Centuries of French Painting, exh cat. (Wichita Art Museum, 1954), p. 3, cat. 17.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Catalogue,” Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 51, 2 (Apr. 1, 1957), p. 34.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 322.1679

A. James Speyer, “Twentieth-Century European Paintings and Sculpture,” Apollo 84, no. 55 (Sept. 1966), p. 222.

Denis Rouart and Jean-Dominique Rey, Monet, nymphéas, ou Les miroirs du temps, with a cat. rais. by Robert Maillard (Hazan, 1972), p. 159 (ill.). Translated by David RadzinowiczasMonet, Water Lilies: The Complete Series, rev. ed., with a cat. rais. by Julie Rouart with Camille Sourisse (Flammarion/Rizzoli, 2008), p. 124 (ill.).

Grace Seiberling, “The Evolution of an Impressionist,” in Paintings by Monet, ed. Susan Wise, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1975), pp. 37, 38.

Susan Wise, ed., Paintings by Monet, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1975), p. 167, cat. 110 (ill.).

Grace Seiberling, Monet’s Series (Garland, 1981), pp. 228; 407, no. 33; fig. 33.

A. James Speyer and Courtney Graham Donnell, Twentieth-Century European Paintings (University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 59, cat. 3B3; microfiche 3, no. B3 (ill.).

Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and Art Institute of Chicago, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, exh. cat. (Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, 1980), p. 35, no. 15 (ill.); 67.

Art Institute of Chicago, Seibu Museum of Art, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, and Fukuoka Art Museum, eds., Shikago bijutsukan insho-ha ten [The Impressionist tradition: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago], exh. cat. (Nippon Television Network, 1985), pp. 126, cat. 64 (ill.); 127 (detail); 161.

Charles F. Stuckey, ed., Monet: A Retrospective (Hugh Lauter Levin, 1985), pp. 255; 263, pl. 103.

Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. 4, Peintures, 1899–1926 (Bibliothèque des Arts, 1985), pp. 214; 215, cat. 1683 (ill.); 376, letters 1885, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891; 377, letter 1897; 429, piéces justificative 213, 215.

Christian Geelhaar, et al., Claude Monet: Nymphéas, Impression, Vision, exh. cat. (Kunstmuseum Basel, 1986), pp. 52, cat. 22 (ill.); 173.

Richard R. Brettell, Post-Impressionists (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1987), pp. 111; 115 (ill.); 118.

Charles F. Stuckey, Monet, Water Lilies (Hugh Lauter Levin, 1988), p. 37, pl. 12.

Andrew Forge, Monet, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago, 1995), pp. 63 (detail); 65; 102, pl. 31; 109.

Charles F. Stuckey, with the assistance of Sophia Shaw, Claude Monet, 1840–1926, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Thames & Hudson, 1995), pp. 152, cat. 130 (ill.); 241; 243.

Paul Hayes Tucker, “Passion and Patriotism in Monet’s Late Work,” in New Orleans Museum of Art and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Monet: Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musée Marmottan, exh. cat. (New Orleans Museum of Art/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/Abrams, 1995), pp. 37, fig. 10; 40.

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet, or The Triumph of Impressionism, cat. rais., vol. 1 (Taschen/Wildenstein Institute, 1996), p. 358, cat. 1683 (ill.).

Daniel Wildenstein, Monet: Catalogue raisonné/Werkverzeichnis, vol. 4, Nos. 1596–1983 et les grandes décorations (Taschen/Wildenstein Institute, 1996), p. 764, cat. 1638 (ill.); 765.

James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture (Art Institute of Chicago, 1996), p. 11 (ill.).

Lynn Gamwell, “Arcadian Impulses in Avant-Garde Art,” in Donald Kuspit and Lynn Gamwell, Health and Happiness in 20th-Century Avant-Garde Art, exh. cat. (Cornell University Press/Binghamton University Art Museum, State University of New York, 1996), pp. 52; 55, fig. 37.

Donald Kuspit, “Happiness, Health, and Related Anomalies of Avant-Garde Art,” in Donald Kuspit and Lynn Gamwell, Health and Happiness in 20th-Century Avant-Garde Art, exh. cat. (Cornell University Press/Binghamton University Art Museum, State University of New York, 1996), p. 44.

Genevieve Morgan, ed., Monet: The Artist Speaks (Collins, 1996), pp. 81 (ill.), 95.

Meyer Schapiro, Impressionism: Reflections and Perceptions (Braziller, 1997), pp. 198–99, fig. 98; 220.

Victor I. Stoichita, A Short History of the Shadow (Reaktion, 1997), pp. 107–08, ill. 36; 109; 208

Warren Adelson, “In the Modernist Camp,” in Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes, by Warren Adelson, Donna Seldin Janis, Elaine Kilmurray, Richard Ormond, and Elizabeth Oustinoff (Abbeville, 1997), pp. 28; 29, pl. 16; 39.

Richard Ormond, “In the Alps,” in Warren Adelson, Donna Seldin Janis, Elaine Kilmurray, Richard Ormond, and Elizabeth Oustinoff, Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes (Abbeville, 1997), p. 100.

Vivian Russell, Monet’s Water Lilies (Little, Brown/Frances Lincoln, 1998), pp. 64–65 (ill.), 93.

George T. M. Shackelford and MaryAnne Stevens, “Water Lilies (Series of Water Landscapes), 1903–1909,” in Paul Hayes Tucker, with George T. M. Shackelford and MaryAnne Stevens, Monet in the 20th Century, exh. cat. (Royal Academy of Arts, London/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Yale University Press, 1998), pp. 148; 158 (detail); 159, cat. 32 (ill.).

Paul Hayes Tucker, “The Revolution in the Garden: Monet in the Twentieth Century,” in Paul Hayes Tucker, with George T. M. Shackelford and MaryAnne Stevens, Monet in the 20th Century, exh. cat. (Royal Academy of Arts, London/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Yale University Press, 1998), pp. 44–45.

Connaissance des Arts and Pierre Georgel, “Monet: L’art de la métaphore,” Connaissance des arts 561 (May 1999), pp. 44–45, fig. 2.

“Monet, les nymphéas: L’exposition,” special issue, Connaissance des arts, 137 (Société Française de Promotion Artistique, 1999), pp. 14–15, ill. 13.

Pierre Geogel, with the assistance of Chantal Georgel and Jacqueline Séjourné, Monet: Le cycle des Nymphéas, Catalogue sommaire, exh. cat. (Musée National de l’Orangerie/Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1999), pp. 38; 92, cat. 15 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills, 2000), p. 163 (ill.).

Debra N. Mancoff, Monet’s Garden in Art (Viking Studio, 2001), pp. 60 (detail), 66–67 (detail), 143.

Karin Sagner-Düchting, “Monet’s Late Work from the Vantage Point of Modernism,” in Monet and Modernism, ed. Karin Sagner-Düchting, exh. cat. (Prestel, 2001), p. 25.

Karin Sagner-Düchting, “The Waterlilies in Giverny and the Grande Décoration,” in Monet and Modernism, ed. Karin Sagner-Düchting, exh. cat. (Prestel, 2001), pp. 68, 76 (ill.).

James Tanaka, Daniel Weiskopf, and Pepper Williams, “The Role of Color in High-Level Vision,” TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences 5, 5 (May 2001), p. 213, fig. 1.

Sothebys, New York, Impressionist and Modern Art, Part One, sale cat. (Sotheby’s, Nov. 5, 2002), pp. 45, fig. 3; 46.

Debra N. Mancoff, Monet: Nature into Art (Publications International, 2003), pp. 103, 111 (ill.).

Lisa Stein, “Seeing Beyond the Must-Sees,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 18, 2003, section 7, p. 1 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, The Essential Guide,rev. ed., selected by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago, 2003), p. 246 (ill.)

Margaret Werth, “‘A Long Entwined Effort’: Colonizing Giverny,” in Impressionist Giverny: A Colony of Artists, 1885–1915, ed. Katherine M. Bourguignon, exh. cat. (Terra Foundation for American Art/Musée d’Art Américain Giverny/University of Chicago Press, 2007), p. 70, fig. 13.

Eric M. Zafran, “Monet in America,” in Wildenstein and Co., Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff, exh. cat. (Wildenstein, 2007), p. 113.

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Kimbell Art Museum, 2008), pp. 161; 163; 174–75, cat. 91 (ill.). Simultaneously published as Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 161; 163; 174–75, cat. 91 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, The Essential Guide (Art Institute of Chicago, 2009), p. 232 (ill.).

“Cat. 44: Water Lilies, 1906” in Monet Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, ed. Gloria Groom and Jill Shaw (Art Institute of Chicago, 2014).

Ownership History

Sold by the artist to Durand-Ruel, Paris (3/4 interest), and Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (1/4 interest), June 3, 1909, for 14,000 francs. [1]

Sold by Durand-Ruel, Paris, to Henri Bernstein, Paris, May 29, 1909, for 20,000 francs. [2]

Sold by Henri Bernstein, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, Paris, Aug. 9, 1909, for 20,000 francs. [3]

On deposit from Durand-Ruel, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, New York, Apr. 1911. [4]

Sold by Durand-Ruel, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, New York, Feb. 10, 1914. [5]

Sold by Durand-Ruel, New York, to Martin A. Ryerson, Chicago, Feb. 10, 1914, for $5,000. [6]

Bequeathed by Martin A. Ryerson (died 1932), Chicago, to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.

NOTES

[1] The transaction is recorded in the Durand-Ruel, Paris, stock book for 1901–13 (no. 9082, as Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, série de 1906): “Purchased from Monet by DR Paris on 3 June 1909 for 14 000 F (3/4 Durand-Ruel, 1/4 Bernheim-Jeune); Stock DR Paris no. 9082; photo no. 6474,” as confirmed by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Archives, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 21, 2013, curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago.

[2] The transaction is recorded in the Durand-Ruel Paris, stock book, for 1901–13 (no. 9082, as Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, série de 1906): “Sold to Henry Bernstein (the playwright) on 29 May 1909 for 20 000 F.,” as confirmed by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Archives, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 21, 2013, curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago. Also in this letter, the Durand-Ruel Archives notes that “the apparent chronological anomaly between the dates of the purchase and of the sale is not unusual.”

[3] The transaction is recorded in the Durand-Ruel, Paris, stock book for 1901–13 (no. 9134, as Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, série de 1906): “Purchased from Henry Bernstein by DR Paris on 9 August 1909 for 20 000 F / Stock DR Paris no. 9134,” as confirmed by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Archives, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 21, 2013, curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago.

[4] The transaction is recorded in the Durand-Ruel, New York, deposit book for 1894–1925 (no. 7606, as Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, série de 1906): “Sent on deposit to DR New York in April 1911 / NY Deposit no. 7606,” as confirmed by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Archives, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 21, 2013, curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago.

[5] The transaction is recorded in the Durand-Ruel, New York, stock book for 1904–24 (no. 3768, as Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, série de 1906): “Purchased by DR New York on 10 February 1914 / Stock DR New York no. 3768,” as confirmed by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Archives, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 21, 2013, curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago.

[6] The transaction is recorded in the Durand-Ruel, New York, stock book for 1904–24 (no. 3768, as Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, série de 1906): “Sold to M.A. Ryerson on 10 February 1914 for $ 5 000,” as confirmed by Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Archives, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 21, 2013, curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago. A purchase receipt on Durand-Ruel letterhead, dated February 10, 1914, details that this painting (no. 3768, Monet, Les nymphéas, paysage d’eau, 1906) was acquired by M. A. Ryerson, in addition to two other paintings (no. 3668, Monet, La cabane de douaniers, 1897, and no. 3646, Monet, Waterloo Bridge, London, 1903) for $20,000. Photocopy in curatorial object file, Art Institute of Chicago. This painting was on loan from Martin A. Ryerson to the Art Institute of Chicago, intermittently, by 1921, according to Museum Registration department artists sheets, on file in Museum Registration, Art Institute of Chicago.




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