Monet masterpiece donated to the National Gallery of Canada
Ottawa - May 4, 2010
A timeless treasure is added to the Gallery’s collection that will give enjoyment to visitors for years to come
The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) has acquired a spectacular Monet Masterpiece thanks to the generosity of Montreal fine arts’ connoisseur, philanthropist and National Gallery of Canada Foundation patron Marjorie Bronfman. Claude Monet’s, Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Aval 1886 is considered an innovative, daring and provocative painting created in the remote resort town of Étretat towards the end of a prodigious campaign on the Normandy coast. It is now on view in the NGC permanent collection galleries that are devoted to the Realists, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.
“This painting reflects Marjorie Bronfman’s passion for art and her eye for excellence,” said NGC Director, Marc Mayer. “We are most grateful to her for this magnificent complement to the Gallery’s internationally recognized collection of Impressionist art.”
Work of Special Significance
Claude Monet is one of the most celebrated French Impressionists. This painting represents a turning point in the artist’s career as he sought to reinterpret through Impressionist eyes the iconic forms of the French landscape.
Inspired by the rugged Normandy coastline, and driven by the desire to set his works apart from other great artists such as Delacroix, Corot and Courbet who had captured the Étretat landscape before him, Monet took unparalleled risks to create original perspectives. Precipitous cliff descents, slippery seaweed-strewn rocks and swiftly turning tides presented numerous and unpredictable challenges for the artist. In order to paint Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Aval, Monet adopted an extremely audacious vantage point looking to the northwest from rocks beyond the beach which are accessible only at low tide. It was thus that the artist was able to align these two dramatic geological rock formations – remarkable coincidences of nature that have stood like towering sentinels over the town of Étretat. When exhibited in Paris in 1908 at the Durand-Ruel galleries, Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Aval drew the attention of numerous art critics who remarked upon its colour and distinctive contrejour.
Monet (1840-1926) was raised in Le Havre and returned for inspiration to the Normandy coast throughout his career. He was especially attracted to Étretat renowned for its fascinating cliff formations. He first visited in the winter of 1868 with his mistress, Camille Doncieux, and their infant son. The frequency with which he painted this part of Normandy coastline sets him apart from other artists and attests to the importance of cliff views to his self-identification as a marine artist. Also, as no other artist before him, he found the chalky limestone rocks to be a rich resource for a colourist.
The NGC’s Collection of Impressionist Paintings
The NGC’s collection of Impressionist paintings began in the early twentieth century and is the most significant of its kind in Canada. Eugène Boudin’s View of Étaples: Low tide was purchased in 1911. Monet’s acclaimed Waterloo Bridge: The Sun in a Fog, was acquired in 1914, just eleven years after it was painted. The notable acquisition of Camille Pissarro’s The Stone Bridge in Rouen, Dull Weather followed in 1923. Several of the Gallery’s finest Impressionist works entered the collection in the 1940s and 1950s, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Claude and Renée, and five paintings by Paul Cézanne. Monet’s Rock Needle seen through the Port d’Aval is the most recent among a number of prominent gifts to the Gallery, including Degas’s enchanting At the Café-concert, a Monet painting, Jean-Pierre Hoschedé and Michel Monet on the Banks of the Epte and Pissarro’s magnificent The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise. The NGC also possesses a significant collection of prints and drawings by the Impressionists.
Mrs. Bronfman is widely recognized for her record of philanthropy and community service. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2001. Cultural, educational, social service and health care institutions have all benefited from her support. Mrs. Bronfman’s distinguished record as a supporter of the arts is well known. Her contributions to the NGC Collections are numerous and substantial. Through the Marjorie and Gerald Bronfman Drawing Acquisition Endowment Fund established in 2004 with the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, four rare and valuable drawings were acquired: A Roman Capricccio with Figures, c. 1745 by Giovanni Paulo Panini; Saint Ambrose Triumphs over Heresy, c. 1750 by Gottfried Bernhard Goz; Tullia Drives her Chariot over the Body of her Father, c. 1798 by Thomas de Thomon; and Design for an Altar, c. 1587-1588 by Jacopo Zucchi. In addition to making significant loans to the Gallery, Mrs. Bronfman has made three important donations to the NGC: An Angel Holding a Martyr’s Palm, c. 1793 and Angels with a Laurel Wreath, c. 1783, both by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, and Rock Needle seen through the Porte d’Aval, 1886 by Claude Monet.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art in the world. In addition, it has pre-eminent collections of Indigenous, Western and European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, American and Asian Art as well as drawings and photography. Created in 1880, it is among the oldest of Canada’s national, cultural institutions. As part of its mandate to make Canadian art accessible across the country, the NGC has one of the largest touring exhibition programs in the world. For more information, visit gallery.ca.
About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to ensuring the long term viability and success of the National Gallery of Canada. Its primary mission is to raise capital and to maintain an endowment for the benefit of the National Gallery. Its offices are located at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. For more information, visit ngcfoundation.ca.
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