A painting from Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" series will go under the hammer in London on March 2. (Photography Courtesy of Sotheby's©)

The painting for sale at Sotheby’s was painted between 1914 and 1917 in his garden in Giverny. Although Monet showed an interest in gardens from his youth, his fascination with horticulture reached new heights after he moved to the town in Normandy. He had a bucolic water garden built there, with a pond covered with water lilies. “I am only good at two things, and those are: gardening and painting. My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece,” he once said.

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Monet produced more than 250 versions of this landscape for his “Nymphéas” series — not counting those that the painter destroyed. One of them will go under the hammer on March 2 during Sotheby’s “Modern & Contemporary” evening sale in London. A first since it entered the private collection of an Asian art lover in 1978. 

Monet vs Picasso

This variation on Monet’s “Water Lilies” is estimated at £15-20 million (US$20.3-27 million). This is a far cry from the $110.7 million for which a painting from his “Meules” series was sold in 2019 at Sotheby’s in New York. This is a record for the Impressionist painter at auction, with an amount among the ten highest ever achieved at auction.

Monet will have some competition during Sotheby’s upcoming “Modern & Contemporary” evening sale. On this occasion, collectors will also be able to try to get their hands on “Buste de femme accoudée” by Picasso.

(Related: Monet’s ‘secret’ art collection on show for first time)

This canvas, painted in shades of gray, evokes two of his muses, Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar. It will appear on the market for the first time since its creation in 1938, with an estimate of between 10 and 15 million pounds (US$11.8 and 17.8 million).

Before being offered for sale in London, these two paintings will be exhibited in Hong Kong (February 8-9) and in Taipei (February 12-13) at Sotheby’s galleries.

-Caroline Drzewinski