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The Four Trees

Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny)

Date:
1891
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
32 1/4 x 32 1/8 in. (81.9 x 81.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.110
  • Gallery Label

    During summer and fall 1891 Monet painted a series of views of poplars along the Epte River, at Giverny. Completion of the series was temporarily threatened when the village of Limetz, across the Epte from Giverny, decided to sell the trees at auction. Monet paid a local lumber merchant to ensure that the trees remained standing until he finished his work. He painted some of the pictures from the riverbank, and others, such as this one, from a boat specially outfitted with grooves to hold multiple canvases. Like the Haystacks, the Poplars were first exhibited as a series. Fifteen were shown in Paris in 1892.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Claude Monet 91

  • Provenance

    [Knoedler, New York, until 1893; their sale, American Art Association, New York, April 14, 1893, no. 362, as "The Four Trees (Poplar Series)," for $1,175 to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1893–95; stock no. 1063; sold on January 12, 1895 to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1895–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 160, ill., as "Landscape—Les Quatre arbres")

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Durand-Ruel. "Exposition de Claude Monet: Série des peupliers des bords de l'Epte," February 29–March 10, 1892, no. 10 (as "Les 4 Arbres").

    New York. Durand-Ruel. November 1894, no catalogue [see New York Times 1894].

    New York. Durand-Ruel. "Monet," January 12–27, 1895, no. 14.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 85 (as "The Poplars [Les Quatres (sic) Arbres]") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 175, as "Poplars"].

    Newark Museum. "19th-Century French and American Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 9–May 15, 1946, no. 23.

    Richmond. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Paintings by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists," October 20–November 19, 1950, unnum. checklist (as "The Poplars").

    City Art Museum of St. Louis. "Claude Monet," September 25–October 22, 1957, no. 75.

    Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Claude Monet," November 1–December 1, 1957, no. 75.

    New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Claude Monet: Seasons and Moments," March 9–May 15, 1960, no. 57 (as "The Four Poplars").

    Los Angeles County Museum. "Claude Monet: Seasons and Moments," June 14–August 7, 1960, no. 57 (as "The Four Poplars").

    Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (pp. 40–41).

    Iowa City. University of Iowa Gallery of Art. "Impressionism and Its Roots," November 8–December 6, 1964, no. 34 (as "The Poplars").

    Fort Worth Art Center. "Spectrum: A Cross Section from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 8–April 12, 1970, unnumbered cat. (as "The Poplars").

    Buffalo. Albright-Knox Art Gallery. "Color and Field: 1890–1970," September 15–November 1, 1970, no. 15 (as "The Four Poplars").

    Dayton Art Institute. "Color and Field: 1890–1970," November 20, 1970–January 10, 1971, no. 15 (as "The Four Poplars").

    Cleveland Museum of Art. "Color and Field: 1890–1970," February 4–March 28, 1971, no. 15 (as "The Four Poplars").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Monet's Years at Giverny: Beyond Impressionism," April 19–July 9, 1978, no. 16.

    Saint Louis Art Museum. "Monet's Years at Giverny: Beyond Impressionism," August 1–October 8, 1978, no. 16.

    Madrid. Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo. "Claude Monet (1840–1926)," April 29–June 30, 1986, no. 72 (as "Les quatre arbres").

    Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "From Delacroix to Matisse," March 15–May 10, 1988, no. 29.

    Moscow. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. "From Delacroix to Matisse," June 10–July 30, 1988, no. 29.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Monet in the 90s: The Series Paintings," February 7–April 29,1990, no. 41.

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Monet in the 90s: The Series Paintings," May 19–August 24, 1990, no. 41.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A407.

    Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland. "Monet to Matisse: Landscape Painting in France, 1874-1914," August 11–October 23, 1994, unnumbered cat.

    Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 27.

  • References

    "Individualists at Durand-Ruel's." New York Times (November 3, 1894), p. 4.

    "Havemeyer Collection at Metropolitan Museum: Havemeyers Paid Small Sums for Masterpieces." Art News 28 (March 15, 1930), p. 35.

    Frank Jewett Mather Jr. "The Havemeyer Pictures." The Arts 16 (March 1930), p. 479.

    Harry B. Wehle. "The Exhibition of the H. O. Havemeyer Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (March 1930), p. 56.

    H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 160, ill.

    Stephen Gwynn. Claude Monet and His Garden: The Story of an Artist's Paradise. New York, 1934, p. 168.

    Lionello Venturi. Les Archives de l'impressionnisme. Paris, 1939, vol. 1, pp. 342–43, publishes two letters from Monet to Durand-Ruel about the poplar series, one of which (March 9, 1892) mentions "le cadre des quatre arbres".

    Oscar Reuterswärd. Monet. Stockholm, 1948, p. 286.

    William C. Seitz in Claude Monet. Exh. cat., City Art Museum of St. Louis. Minneapolis, 1957, pp. 29–30, no. 75, ill.

    Denis Rouart in Claude Monet. [Lausanne], 1958, p. 85, ill. (color), states that "the linear stylization foreshadowing the decorative eccentricities of the 'art nouveau' of 1900, combined with the rippling mirror of the water, here attains an almost abstract degree of purity".

    William C. Seitz. Claude Monet: Seasons and Moments. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1960, pp. 26, 29, 61, no. 57, ill.

    William C. Seitz. Claude Monet. New York, [1960], pp. 35, 140–41, ill. (color), compares the abstract design to later work by Mondrian and Klimt, and claims that Monet had adapted some of Seurat's principles of color and design.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX–XX Centuries." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 3, New York, 1967, pp. 136–37, ill.

    Raymond Cogniat. Claude Monet. New York, 1969, ill. p. 39 (color).

    William Seitz. "The Relevance of Impressionism." Art News 67 (January 1969), ill. p. 33.

    Douglas Cooper. "The Monets in the Metropolitan Museum." Metropolitan Museum Journal 3 (1970), pp. 291, 297–99, 302, 304–5, fig. 24.

    Jean Clay. L'Impressionnisme. [Paris], 1971, pp. 254–55, ill. (color).

    Sabine Cotté. Monet. Paris, 1974, colorpl. 15.

    Denis Rouart in Monet, Water-Lilies: Or the Mirror of Time. New York, 1974, p. 51, ill. [French ed., 1972].

    Andrew Forge in Monet at Giverny. London, 1975, p. 11, uses it as an example of Monet's development of an "extreme frontality which seems to be capable of radiating endlessly beyond the boundaries of the canvas".

    Roger Terry Dunn. "The Monet-Rodin Exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1889." PhD diss., Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., 1978, pp. iv, 133–34, fig. 10.

    Joel Isaacson. Observation and Reflection: Claude Monet. Oxford, 1978, pp. 41, 222, pl. 105.

    Meyer Schapiro. "Mondrian: Order and Randomness in Abstract Painting." Modern Art: 19th & 20th Centuries, Selected Papers. New York, 1978, p. 245, fig. 6, compares the composition to a painting by Mondrian called "Trees in Moonlight (Trees on a River Bank)" (Gemeentemuseum, The Hague).

    Robert Herbert. "Method and Meaning in Monet." Art in America 67 (September 1979), p. 108, as "Four Poplars".

    Wim de Poorter et al. Impressionisme en Symbolisme. Nijmegen, 1979, pl. 3.

    Daniel Wildenstein. "1887–1898: Peintures." Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. 3, Paris, 1979, pp. 42–3 n. 1051, p. 47 n. 1083, p. 66 n. 1278, p. 264 letter 1135, no. 1309, ill.

    Klaus Berger. Japonismus in der westlichen Malerei: 1860–1920. Munich, 1980, pp. 92–93, fig. 68.

    Grace Seiberling Yale University. Monet's Series. New York, 1981, pp. 116–17, 365, no. 23.

    Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge. Monet. New York, 1983, p. 293, ill. p. 197 (color).

    Jacqueline Guillaud and Maurice Guillaud. Claude Monet au temps de Giverny. Exh. cat., Centre Culturel du Marais. Paris, 1983, figs. 49 and 50 (color, detail and overall).

    Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 10, 138–39, 252, ill. (color, overall and detail).

    Shunsuke Kijima. Monet. Tokyo, 1985, unpaginated, fig. 39 (color).

    Monet: A Retrospective. New York, 1985, p. 184, colorpl. 81.

    John House. Monet: Nature into Art. New Haven, 1986, pp. 25, 128, 178, 203, colorpl. 256.

    Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 100, 257, claims that the Havemeyers bought this work on January 12, the opening day of the 1895 exhibition in which it was included.

    Gary Tinterow et al. "Modern Europe." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 8, New York, 1987, pp. 36–37, colorpl. 20.

    Francesco Arcangeli. Monet. Bologna, 1989, p. 60, fig. 55.

    Monet by Himself. London, 1989, ill. p. 209 (color).

    Roland Dorn in Vincent van Gogh and the Modern Movement: 1890–1914. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang, Essen. Freren, Germany, 1990, p. 189, no. 63, ill. (color).

    Rodolphe Rapetti in L'art du XIXe siècle, 1850–1905. Paris, 1990, p. 53, fig. 83 (color).

    Karin Sagner-Düchting. Claude Monet, 1840–1926: Ein Fest für die Augen. Cologne, 1990, pp. 161, 167, ill. p. 168 (color).

    Paul Hayes Tucker. Monet in the '90s: The Series Paintings. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1990, pp. 111, 297, no. 41, colorpl. 35, ill. p. 115 (color detail).

    Marianne Alphant. Claude Monet: Une vie dans le paysage. [Paris], 1993, pp. 498, 500.

    Chuji Ikegami. "Period of Impressionism." New History of World Art. 22, Tokyo, 1993, p. 178, ill. p. 178 and colorpl. 117.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 217.

    Gary Tinterow in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 33, colorpl. 35.

    Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 365–66, no. A407, ill.

    Steven Z. Levine. Monet, Narcissus, and Self-Reflection: The Modernist Myth of the Self. Chicago, 1994, pp. 125, 147–48, 167, fig. 79.

    Lynn Federle Orr. "Monet: An Introduction." Monet: Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musée Marmottan. Exh. cat., New Orleans Museum of Art. New Orleans, 1994, p. 25, fig. 11 (color), discusses Monet's use of abstraction, cutting off the tops of the trees and creating a grid of horizontals and verticals that cannot be read three-dimensionally.

    Richard Thomson. Monet to Matisse: Landscape Painting in France, 1874–1914. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1994, pp. 13, 144–45, 147, 187, 193, colorpls. 219, 225 (overall and detail).

    Elia Espinosa. "El Poema como Instrumento de Percepción de la Pintura." Los Discursos Sobre el Arte. Mexico City, 1995, pp. 297–99, fig. 1, discusses the painting in relation to Octavio Paz's poem "Cuatro chopos", which was inspired by this picture.

    Daniel Wildenstein. "Catalogue raisonné–Werkverzeichnis: Nos. 969–1595." Monet. 3, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, pp. 523–24, no. 1309, ill. pp. 517 and 522 (color, detail and overall).

    Daniel Wildenstein. Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism. 1, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 280.

    Caroline Durand-Ruel. "Quand les Havemeyers aimaient la peinture française." Connaissance des arts no. 544 (November 1997), pp. 108–9, ill. (color).

    Carla Rachman. Monet. London, 1997, p. 255, fig. 163 (color).

    Susan Alyson Stein in La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1997, p. 18.

    Gary Tinterow in La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1997, pp. 61, 63, 105, no. 27, ill. (color).

    John Goodman in The Oxford History of Western Art. Oxford, 2000, p. 334, colorpl. 487.

    Anthea Callen. "Technique and Gender: Landscape, Ideology and the Art of Monet in the 1890s." Gendering Landscape Art. New Brunswick, N.J., 2001, p. 37, suggests that Monet bought canvases for his Poplars series in groups by size; notes that this painting is the most abstract composition of the series.

    Ann Gibson in Monet and Modernism. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung. Munich, 2001, pp. 116–17, ill. (color).

    Horst Keller. Monets Jahre in Giverny, Ein Garten wird Malerei. Cologne, 2001, p. 67, ill. p. 64 (color).

    Michael Diener Universität Saarbrücken. Das Ambivalente in der Kunst Leonardos, Monets und Mondrians. St. Ingbert, 2002, pp. 196, 200 n. 532, p. 212.

    Sylvie Patin. "Un tableau de la série des 'Peupliers' de Monet entre par dation au musée d'Orsay." Revue des musées de France: Revue du Louvre 53 (April 2003), p. 24, fig. 3.

    Christofer Conrad in Christian von Holst and Christofer Conrad. Claude Monet: Fields in Spring. Exh. cat., Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Stuttgart, 2006, p. 108, fig. 83 (color).

    Christian von Holst in Christian von Holst and Christofer Conrad. Claude Monet: Fields in Spring. Exh. cat., Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Stuttgart, 2006, p. 50, fig. 25 (color).

    Joseph Baillio and Cora Michael in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, pp. 167, 204.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 142, 283–84, no. 131, ill. (color and black and white).

    Paul Hayes Tucker in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, pp. 76–77, fig. 17 (color).

    Eric M. Zafran in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, p. 84.



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