A Claude Monet painting, believed to have been missing since 1895, has resurfaced and will go on view in a forthcoming exhibition on the French Impressionist at the National Gallery in London. “Effet de Brouillard” (1872), a somber depiction of the countryside in Argenteuil, near Paris, was recently found by art historian Richard Thomson, who conducted a simple Google search to solve this puzzle.
Thomson, a professor of fine art at the University of Edinburgh, had originally seen the painting as printed in a 1996 catalogue raisonné as well as in the book Monet at Argenteuil, but no one seemed to have known where the artwork actually resided for much of its life. The catalogue raisonné had listed it as being in a private collection, according to The Guardian. Thomson, who is curating the exhibition Monet & Architecture, set to open at the National Gallery next April, was keen on including the landscape, as he was interested in paintings that depict architecture masked by natural features such as foliage or the weather.
“Quite simply I found it on Google, saw that it had passed through an antique dealer/auction house in New Orleans, contacted them, and they quickly got in touch with the owner, who — again, quickly — responded positively to the exhibition, for which I am most grateful,” Thomson told Hyperallergic.
He also found out that the painting had been sold in London in 2007, in an anonymous sale at Christie’s, and with little fanfare, for £412,000 (~$550,000 US). The auction house’s website notes that Galerie Durand-Ruel, which operated in Paris between 1833 and 1974, had acquired the painting from Monet in February of 1873. The last time it was exhibited was in 1895, at Durand-Ruel Galleries in New York, before it passed through the hands of a number of private owners.
The scene of Argenteuil, where Monet lived between 1871 and 1878, is one of over 180 paintings he produced during that period. Come next spring, the muted view of fields, with one factory chimney spewing smoke in the distance, will be on public display once more, among 74 other paintings Thomson has selected.