When Monet painted this picture of his elder son, Jean, in the summer of 1872, the artist and his family had recently returned to France from their self-imposed exile during the Franco-Prussian War. Through the efforts of the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, the artist's finances had begun to improve, enabling the once-impoverished Monets to rent a house in Argenteuil, an agreeable suburb northwest of Paris. For this portrait, Monet posed the five-year-old in the garden of their new home. Monet never exhibited the painting but kept it throughout his life.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Claude Monet. / 1872.
the artist, Argenteuil (1872–d. 1926); his daughter-in-law, Blanche Hoschedé-Monet (Mme Jean Monet), Giverny (1926–at least 1935); [Georges Bernheim, Paris, until 1938; sold on April 29 to Wildenstein]; [Wildenstein, London and New York, 1938–43; stock no. 10326; sold to Rogers]; Mrs. Huttleston Rogers, New York (1943–at least 1948); Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings, Chicago and New York (by 1952–at least 1982); [Colnaghi, New York, 1983]; private collection/foundation [?George Farkas/Koch Foundation], United States (by 1986–94); [William Beadleston, New York, 1994; sold to Sara Lee]; Sara Lee Corporation, Chicago (1994–2000)
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Claude Monet: Exposition rétrospective," 1931, no. 20 (as "Portrait de Jean Monet enfant sur un cheval mécanique," lent by Mme Hoschedé-Monet).
Paris. Durand-Ruel. "Claude Monet de 1865 à 1888," 1935, no. 11 (lent by Mme Blanche Monet).
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Children of France," March 1942, unnum. checklist (as "Monet Child on Tricycle").
San Francisco. M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. "Nathan Cummings Collection," n.d., no catalogue?
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Claude Monet, 1840–1926," May 10–June 15, 1952, no. 27 (lent by a private collection).
Paris. Galerie Beaux-Arts. "Claude Monet," June 19–July 17, 1952, no. 21 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings, U.S.A.).
The Hague. Gemeentemuseum. "Claude Monet," July 24–September 22, 1952, no. 23 (lent by Nathan Cummings, U.S.A.).
Paris. Musée des Arts Décoratifs. "Collection Nathan Cummings d'art ancien du Pérou," March–May 1956, no. 3 (as "Petit garçon sur un tricycle").
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Claude Monet," January 3–February 2, 1958, no. 7 [see Ref. Wildenstein 1974].
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Paintings from the Cummings Collection," January 14–March 7, 1965, unnumbered cat.
New York. Wildenstein. "Olympia's Progeny," October 28–November 27, 1965, no. 9 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings).
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Selections from the Nathan Cummings Collection," June 28–September 11, 1970, no. 11.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nathan Cummings Collection," July 1–September 7, 1971, no. 48.
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Faces from the World of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism," November 2–December 9, 1972, no. 47 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings).
Art Institute of Chicago. "Major Works from the Collection of Nathan Cummings," October 20–December 9, 1973, no. 3.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Paintings by Monet," March 15–May 11, 1975, no. 30 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings).
New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Claude Monet," October 27–November 28, 1976, no. 14.
Rotterdam. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen. "De Fiets," April 7–June 12, 1977, no. 76 (lent by Nathan Cummings).
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Prized Possessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," June 17–August 16, 1992, no. 93 (lent by a private collection).
Art Institute of Chicago. "Claude Monet, 1840–1926," July 22–November 26, 1995, no. 27 (lent by the Sara Lee Corporation).
Laren. Singer Museum. "The Sara Lee Collection: An Impressionist Legacy," October 18, 1997–February 15, 1998, no catalogue [see Ref. Brettell 2000].
Singapore Museum of Art. "Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation," April 1–May 30, 1999, no. 31.
Canberra. National Gallery of Australia. "Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation," June 11–August 22, 1999, no. 31.
Raleigh. North Carolina Museum of Art. "Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation," September 10–November 7, 1999, no. 31.
Portland, Oreg. Portland Art Museum. "Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation," November 19, 1999–January 23, 2000, no. 31.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation," March 13–May 28, 2000, no. 31.
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Monet's Garden," October 29, 2004–March 13, 2005.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 86.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Helen Comstock. "The Connoisseur in America: French Art for French Children." The Connoisseur 109 (July 1942), pp. 146–47, ill.
Maurice Malingue. Claude Monet. Monaco, 1943, p. 146, pl. 58.
Douglas Cooper. Claude Monet. Exh. cat., Royal Scottish Academy Building. Edinburgh, 1957, p. 45, no. 30, pl. 17i, remarks that it was painted before Monet left for London in 1870; sees the influence of Manet; notes that "the flat landscape background suggests a photographer's studio" and compares it to Degas's 1870 portrait of Henri Valpinçon (L270).
Luigina Rossi Bortolatto. L'opera completa di Claude Monet, 1870–1889. Milan, 1966, p. 93, no. 61, ill. p. 92.
Raymond Cogniat. Monet and His World. London, 1966, p. 135, ill. p. 50.
Carol Cutler. Selections from the Nathan Cummings Collection. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1970, p. 24, no. 11, ill. p. 24 and on cover (color).
Marie-Claude Wrenn. "In the Art Market, Nobody Doesn't Like Mr. Sara Lee." Life 69 (October 23, 1970), p. 76, ill. (color).
René Huyghe. Impressionism. New York, 1973, p. 152, ill.
Daniel Wildenstein. Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. Vol. 1, 1840–1881: Peintures. Lausanne, 1974, pp. 62, 216–17, no. 238, ill.
Paul Hayes Tucker. Monet at Argenteuil. New Haven, 1982, pp. 131, 139, fig. 104, suggests that it strongly recalls equestrian portraits by Titian and Velázquez, and compares it to the latter's "Infante Don Baltasar Carlos on Horseback" (Prado, Madrid), and remarks that, in doing this, Monet was using "the forms of the aristocrats of old to confirm their newly attained status"; interprets it as showing signs of familial estrangement, alienation, and discontent in the Monet household.
John House. Monet: Nature into Art. New Haven, 1986, p. 34, pl. 44, proposes that it is not an "unequivocal tribute" to the traditional equestrian child portrait, but more of a parody, "as the monumental steed is transformed into a wooden horse mounted on a child's tricycle".
Perrin Stein inPrized Possessions: European Paintings from Private Collections of Friends of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Ed. Peter C. Sutton. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1992, pp. 181, no. 93, colorpl. 130, remarks that the composition, its flatness and the muted colors, give it a two-dimensional abstracted quality that recalls the Japanese prints that Monet collected.
Paul Hayes Tucker. Claude Monet: Life and Art. New Haven, 1995, pp. 65–66, 68, colorpl. 74.
Daniel Wildenstein. Monet. Vol. 2, Catalogue raisonné–Werkverzeichnis: Nos. 1–968. 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, pp. 104–5, no. 238, ill. (color).
Daniel Wildenstein. Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism. Vol. 1, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 99, ill. p. 95 (color).
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1999–2000." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 58 (Fall 2000), pp. 5, 45, ill. (color).
Richard R. Brettell. Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation. Exh. cat.New Haven, 2000, pp. xi–xii, xiv, xx, 116–21, no. 31, fig. 7, fig. 21, pp. xi, xx, ill. (color, overall and details), places it in the context of Monet's other six or seven paintings of Jean, all completed before this one, and sees it as a "father's pictorial analysis of his paternity and his son's growth"; suggests that this portrait was probably painted to mark Jean's fifth birthday, a celebration of his passage from infancy to boyhood, and notes that the toy horse is a present from his father.
Christoph Becker et al. Monet's Garden. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany, 2004, pp. 23, 195, no. 8, ill. p. 24 (color).
Clare A. P. Willsdon. In the Gardens of Impressionism. New York, 2004, pp. 129, 264 n. 7, erroneously locates it in a private collection, Boston.
Paul Hayes Tucker. "Monet and the Bourgeois Dream: Argenteuil and the Modern Landscape." Modernism and Modernity: The Vancouver Conference Papers. Ed. Benjamin H.D. Buchloh et al. 2nd ed. [1st ed., 1983]. Halifax, 2004, pp. 28, 34.
Doris Kutschbach. Living Monet: The Artist's Gardens. Munich, 2006, p. 15, ill. p. 19 (color).
Hugues Wilhelm inWomen in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Ed. Sidsel Maria Søndergaard. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, p. 280, erroneously as still in the Sara Lee Collection.
Eric M. Zafran inClaude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, pp. 131, 141, calls it "Jean Monet on His Mechanical Horse" and "Jean Monet on His Tricycle".
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 122, 239, no. 86, ill. (color and black and white).
R[ichard]. S[hone]. "Supplement: Acquisitions (2000–10) of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York." Burlington Magazine 152 (December 2010), p. 841, fig. VI (color).
Monet painted this picture of his eldest son in the summer of 1872 in the garden of his house at Argenteuil. This portrait of Jean on his hobby horse had been likened to the equestrian portraits of Titian and Velázquez; Tucker [see Ref. 1982] has suggested that in doing this Monet was using aristocratic forms to confirm his newly attained success. Brettell [see Ref. 2000] has placed this picture within the context of Monet's other paintings of Jean and suggests that in this work Monet chronicles the growth of his child and demonstrates his paternal love.
This work remained with Monet until his death when it passed to the widow of Jean.