‘A masterpiece rediscovered’: Unseen Monet painting expected to fetch more than $65 million at auction

Christie's Images Limited 2023
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A previously unseen painting by Claude Monet is expected to fetch more than $65 million when it goes on sale in New York early next month, according to a statement released by Christie’s auction house.

Entitled “Le bassin aux nymphéas” or “Water lily pond,” the two-meter- (6.6-foot-) wide painting forms part of Monet’s famous “Water Lilies” series, depicting light dappling across the water, casting reflections of water lilies and willow trees.

Painted around 1917-1919, it dates from the latter period of Monet’s life, as he produced a series of works depicting water lilies that now hang in museums worldwide.

And after almost a lifetime of studying color and light, this painting “captures the dynamism and beauty of nature’s transience, exploring the ephemeral atmosphere, seasonal blooms, watery depths, and glimmering reflections of light,” Christie’s statement said.

Until now, the painting had remained in the same family collection for more than 50 years, “impeccably preserved and hidden away,” Max Carter, Christie’s Vice Chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, said in a statement.

“With Monet, seemingly everything has already been seen or said,” Carter added. “Le bassin aux nymphéas, which has never been exhibited or offered at auction, is, however, that rarest thing: A masterpiece rediscovered.”

The painting will be offered in Christie’s evening sale of 20th-century works on November 9.

As a leader of the Impressionist movement, Monet exerted a significant impact on the art world, influencing his contemporaries such as Vincent van Gogh as well as later Abstract Expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock.

His paintings are now emblematic of Impressionism itself, shedding the early critical ambivalence toward them to become some of the most recognizable pieces of art worldwide.

Significant Monet paintings have previously fetched eye-watering sums of money at auction. Another in the “Water Lilies” series sold for $84.7 million at Christie’s in May 2018, while a painting from the “Haystacks” series sold for $110.7 million at Sotheby’s a year later.

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