In Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art sale on February 26th, Le Palais Ducal by Claude Monet is expected to sale for as much as £30 million ($35 million). The 1908 painting depicts a pastel view of the Doge’s palace from the water. Le Palais Ducal is one of three paintings created from the vantage point of a boat moored in the canal – another of the trio belongs to the Brooklyn Museum’s collection in New York. Monet painted the artwork during his only visit to Venice. When the painter arrived to the city he believed it to be ‘too beautiful to paint.’ Ignoring his own impression of the city, he went on to paint nearly 40 canvases over his three-month stay.
The rarely seen painting has belonged to the same family since the 1920s. Acquired by Erich Goeritz, a textiles manufacturer based in Berlin, in 1925, the painting fit well into Goeritz’s extensive collection of Impressionist and Modern art. Including works like Édouard Manet’s Un bar aux Folies-Bergère, now in London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, Goeritz’s collection was eccentrically ahead of its time. In 1933, the collector gifted a number of works to the newly founded Tel Aviv Museum of Art and gave sizable donations to the British Museum and Tate.
The February sale will be the first time Le Palais Ducal has appeared at auction nearly a century after it was created. Earlier this year, the painting made its first public appearance in nearly 40 years while on exhibition at the National Gallery in London. As part of ‘Monet and Architecture,’ which explored Monet’s ‘ground-breaking depictions’ of the world around him, the 1908 painting was shown alongside it’s Brooklyn Museum counterpart.
While painting Le Palais Ducal, Monet ‘turned to his artistic forbears JMW Turner and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, for whom the city had held a special importance,’ according to Sotheby’s. Henri Matisse would later observe: ‘it seemed to [him] that Turner must have been the link between the academic tradition and impressionism,’ when he viewed Monet and Turner’s views of Venice side by side.
‘This spellbinding painting is a true masterpiece and among the very greatest Monet painted during his first and only encounter with Venice…it presents a rare opportunity for collectors from all over the world to acquire a painting of this quality that is completely fresh to the market,’ said Helena Newman, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department and chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.
In addition to this monumental work by Monet, the February sale will boast works from the late 19th and 20th centuries. Paintings, works on paper, and sculptures by Schiele, Kirchner, Giacometti, Picasso, and Chagall are amongst those expected to hit the auction block.