A painting by Claude Monet. "L’Ancienne rue de la Chaussée, Argenteuil" is an Impressionist, city scene painting, oil on canvas by French artist Claude Monet. The artwork is signed in the lower right, "Claude Monet".
Argenteuil was not exclusively Monet’s domain during the 1870s, but the six years he spent here and the superb paintings that came of that time and place are at the nexus of the Impressionist movement. In a collective sense, it not only proved to be that movement’s formative years and the most exciting period of its existence — painters working predominately outdoors and often side-by-side, using pure, unmixed colors with unblended, visually stimulating brushstrokes, but it is upon Monet’s lead when he settled here in December 1871 that this small hamlet and recreational center became a vibrant hub for the emerging movement that included scenes of the area by Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Édouard Manet, and Gustave Caillebotte. John Rewald rightfully observed that “probably no single place could be identified more closely with Impressionism than Argenteuil,’ (J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, p. 341). But it is important to acknowledge it was Monet’s robust strength of his character and talent that had everything to do with the sudden emergence of Impressionism at this time and this place of beauty.
Alfred Sisley and his significant other, Marie Lescouezec, were often guests of Claude Monet and his wife, Camille during the spring of 1872. When Monet built a studio boat the following year, it was to Sisley he extended the privilege of its use. The best evidence of their comradery is that they painted together on at least two occasions at the same location and from the same vantage point simultaneously — one, along Boulevard Héloïse, Argenteuil’s main thoroughfare, and the other, looking north from the plaza-like aspect of rue de la Chaussée where rue des Saints-Péres intersects at the lower left foreground, and further on, where rue Notre Dame intersects and fronts the façade of the one structure squared-up to the viewer.
Monet’s rue de la Chaussée is a softly modulated interpretation of this quaint and historic street; a luminous, late afternoon study of light and shadows as they play against the folding and unfolding planar aspects of facades and roofs of the buildings lining the street. ‘Chaussée’ means ‘footpath’ in French and with its quirky course, unpaved compacted earthen surface, and the sundry scattered townsfolk Monet added, it reads as an unchanging tableau frozen by times past and untouched by the relentless advance of modernity. But Monet also chose this site carefully and stood directly in the middle of rue de la Chaussée (just as he would when he painted the view down Le Boulevard Héloïse). He intended it to be picturesque and as alluring as possible and it succeeds beautifully. The composition is built upon an open, virtually unbounded base foreground, the lines of which are of a severe convergent triangulation aided by well-orchestrated effects of light and shadow that inexorably carry the eye to the narrow confines of rue de la Chaussée near the center of the picture plane. Yet it is the light-hued warm tints ranging from soft pinks to mauves that lift the shifting planar elements of the architecture to a setting of extreme beauty, aided by the formal accents of phthalo blues and greens evident in the clothing and window shutters — a splendid painting that foretells of so much to come.
François Fayette, Argenteuil, acquired from the artist in January 1877
Mme Edouard Landrin, Paris, by descent from the above, by circa 1931; estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25-26 November 1936, lot 22
Private Collection, acquired at the above sale by another member of the Landrin family
Galerie Nathan, Zurich (no. C-1912)
Private Collection, Switzerland, acquired from the above circa 1977, and thence by descent
Private Collection, acquired from the above by the present owner
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Claude Monet, Exposition rétrospective, 1931, no. 23 (with incorrect dimensions)
London, Royal Academy of Arts, From Manet to Gauguin, Masterpieces from Swiss Private Collections, June - October 1995, no. 30, p. 84 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Monet au Musée Marmottan et dans les collections suisses, June - November 2011, no. 5, p. 39 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
Forth Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, Monet, The Early Years, October 2016 – January 2017, no. 49, pp. 174 and 205 (illustrated p. 175; with incorrect dimensions); this exhibition later travelled to San Francisco, Legion of Honor, February – May 2017.
Denver, Art Museum, Claude Monet, The Truth of Nature, October 2019 – February 2020, no. 42, p. 266 (with incorrect dimensions); this exhibition later travelled to Potsdam, Museum Barberini, Monet, Places, February – June 2020
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Paris, 1974, no. 239, p. 216 (illustrated p. 217; with incorrect dimensions)
P.H. Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, New Haven, 1982, no. 9, pp. 24, 27, 32 & 42 (illustrated p. 28; with incorrect dimensions)
D. Wildenstein, Claude Monet, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1996, no. 239, p. 105 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions)