Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Oil on canvas
29 3/8 x 39 1/4 in. (74.6 x 99.7 cm)
Signed and inscribed: (lower right) Claude Monet; (right) LOCATI[ON] CANOT[S] (boat rental)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.112)
Monet noted on September 25, 1869, "I do have a dream, a painting [tableau], the baths of La Grenouillère, for which I have made some bad sketches [pochades], but it is only a dream. Renoir, who has just spent two months here, also wants to do this painting." Monet and Renoir, both desperately poor, were quite close at this time.
This painting and one in London (National Gallery) are probably the "pochades" Monet mentioned; another painting, now lost but formerly in the Arnhold collection in Berlin, may well have been the "tableau" that he dreamed of. The broad, constructive brushstrokes here are clearly those of a sketch; at this time, Monet sought a more delicate and carefully calibrated surface for his exhibition pictures. (A nearly identical composition by Renoir is in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.)
Monet and Renoir both recognized in La Grenouillère—a spa and working-class resort—an ideal subject for the images of leisure they hoped to sell. Optimistically promoted as a "Trouville-sur-Seine," it was easily accessible by train from Paris and had just been favored with a visit by Emperor Napoleon III and his wife and son.