One of Claude Monet’s “monumental” paintings of Waterloo Bridge will go under the hammer for an estimated £24 million in London next month after being in the possession of the same US family for seven decades.
Waterloo Bridge, Effet de Brume, which depicts the London landmark cloaked in fog as the morning sun breaks through, has been described by auction house Christie’s as a “poetic masterpiece”.
The work, last seen at auction in 1939, is one in a series of 41 painted by the impressionist master of the bridge across the Thames between 1899 and 1904.
Keith Gill, the head of impressionist and modern art at Christie’s in London, said it was a “homecoming” after the last works from Monet’s London series went to auction in New York.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s great to have such an iconic London view in London for auction and it will be a real highlight of the season.
“This has been tucked away in the same family collection since 1951 so 70 years in the same ownership”.
It is rare for works from the series to come to auction, with 26 in museum collections and few of the rest likely to “change hands any time soon”, Mr. Gill said.
The last of Monet’s Waterloo Bridge paintings to go under the hammer was estimated in the region of 35 million dollars and ended up fetching 48 million dollars in New York last May, with Mr. Gill expecting similar competition for this work “because of its rarity and quality”.
In the series, Monet captured the shifting character of the bridge under varying weather conditions and at different times of the day through a range of colors.
Mr. Gill said this one was unusual for “this amazing strong burst of sunlight”.
“It is absolutely incredible in the flesh,” he said.
“You see Monet’s mastery of light, that sunshine reflected under the bridge and on the surface of the water so it’s quite a poetic work”.
First purchased by French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in 1905 – a year after it was painted, the picture was eventually bought by the chairman of the US watch company Bulova in 1951 and passed down the generations of his family.
It comes to auction on June 28 after a long-term loan to Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Basel and amid “incredibly strong” demand, Mr. Gill said.
“Against the uncertain economic times in relation to interest rates and inflation and the stock market, as has been the case for many, many years, a lot of our clients are feeling very comfortable investing in art,” he added.