Painted in the same year as Pissarro's pointillist canvas, this impressionist seascape by Claude Monet is conservative in comparison. Nevertheless, in the context of Monet's oeuvre at the time it represents an adventurous advance. This is no conventional example of marine painting. The horizon, a feature generally used by seascapists to stabilise their compositions, is completely occluded by the rocks and cliff faces of Belle-Île. These outcrops range with claustrophobic effect across the upper register of the work, appearing as well in the form of cramped promontories on either side of the foreground. The ragged patch of sea thus formed, filled by the painter with countless flecks of paint to indicate waves, is the real subject of the picture. Japanese woodblock prints, commonly available in Paris at the time, provided impressionist and later painters with radical solutions to the problem of representing three-dimensional forms on a flat surface. Few seized these solutions with the alacrity of Monet, or adapted them with such distinction.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
oil on canvas
81.0 x 65.0 cm stretcher; 98.0 x 82.0 x 10.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., red oil "Claude Monet 87".
Shown in 16 exhibitions
French art from Australian collections, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, Jun 1959–Jul 1959
Claude Monet au temps de Giverny, Centre culturel du Marais, Paris, 06 Apr 1983–17 Jul 1983
Claude Monet, painter of light:
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland 29 Apr 1985–09 Jun 1985
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 21 Jun 1985–04 Aug 1985
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 14 Aug 1985–29 Sep 1985
Monet & Japan:
Belle-Île: Monet, Russell & Matisse in Brittany:
L'impressionismo e l'età di Van Gogh, Casa dei Carraresi, Treviso, Treviso, 09 Nov 2002–30 Mar 2003
The Impressionists: masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay, NGV: International, Melbourne, 17 Jun 2004–26 Sep 2004
Claude Monet's Port-Goulphar, Belle-Île on view, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, 24 Oct 2005–30 May 2006
The triumph of landscape: Turner to Monet, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes, 14 Mar 2008–09 Jul 2008
Monet and the Impressionists:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 11 Oct 2008–26 Jan 2009
- Te Papa - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 14 Feb 2009–17 May 2009
Paths to abstraction 1867-1917, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 26 Jun 2010–19 Sep 2010
Australian impressionists in France, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 15 Jun 2013–06 Oct 2013
Monet/Kelly, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts, 23 Nov 2014–15 Feb 2015
Modernists: selections from the European collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 07 Nov 2015–25 Apr 2016
Landscapes of pleasure, from Monet to Hockney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Apr 2016–17 Jul 2016
Monet. Beyond Impressionism, Ordrupgaard, Denmark, 19 Aug 2016–04 Dec 2016
Paul Durand-Ruel, post Jan 1887, Paris/France, letter from Caroline Durand-Ruel Godfroy, 19 July 2000. Ms Durand-Ruel Godfroy writes that it is possible that Durand-Ruel Paris purchased the painting from Monet on 7 January 1887. It is certainly listed in their 1891-1901 Stock Book under the number 1216. In the following stock book it is mentioned as being part of the private collection of Paul Durand-Ruel and is therefore not mentioned as being part of the stock of the gallery. On 26 October 1925 the painting was sent to Durand-Ruel New York and remained in the private collection of the Durand-Ruel family. In December 1935 the painting, now in the collection of Mme Georges Durand-Ruel, was returned to Paris and was later sold by Mme Durand-Ruel on 7 April 1944 to Durand-Ruel Paris who sold it to L Renard on the same day.
Mme George Durand-Ruel, Dec 1935-07 Apr 1944, Paris/France, by descent.
Durand-Ruel, Paris, 07 Apr 1944, Paris/France, purchased by Durand-Ruel Paris from Mme George Durand-Ruel on 7 April 1944 (stock number 14312) and sold to L Renard on the same day.
Mr L Renard, post 07 Apr 1944, Lyon/France
Rousso Gallery, Paris, pre Sep 1949, Paris/France, purchased by the AGNSW from Rousso Gallery 1949. David Jones Ltd, London acting on behalf of the AGNSW.
Referenced in 51 publications
Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Art Bulletin, vol 97, no 3, 'Le grand tout: Monet on Belle-Île and the impulse toward unity', Sep 2015, pp 323–41: p 323, fig 3, col illus p 326.
Paula Dregde, Microscopy and microanalysis, vol 9, no 2, 'Monet's painting under the microscope', Apr 2003, pp 139–43, col illus p 140, fig 1.
Renée Free, Art and Australia, 'European Collection', Sydney, Jul 1972, pp 63–75: p 73, illus p 74.
Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', Sydney, 1994, pp 108–72: p 138, col illus p 139.
Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', Sydney, 1988, pp 36–56: 48.
Ted Goot, The Impressionists: masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay, 'Claude Monet', Melbourne, 2004, p 74, col illus p 75.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', Sydney, 1999, pp 17–77: p 49, col illus p 49.
Alan Krell, Art Gallery of New South Wales collection series 4, 'Camille Pissarro 1830–1903 Peasants' Houses, Eragny. 1887', Sydney, Winter 1983, pp 1–4: p 2, illus p 3, fig 2.
John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, 'The only school of art', Sydney, 2008, p 485–544: p 492, col illus p 493.
Justin Paton, Look, 'The great outdoors', Sydney, May 2016, pp 34–35: col illus p 35.
Mary Powis, North Shore Times, 'Triumph of landscape legends', 28 Mar 2008, p 41.
Peter Raissis, Look, 'Rehanging the Old Courts', Heidelberg, Mar 1997, p 9.
Prue Rushton, Sporting Doctor Magazine, 'The Lost Impressionist', Sydney, Sep 1996, pp 52–63: p 56, col illus p 56.
Jennifer Saville, Calendar news, 'Claude Monet's 'Port-Goulphar, Belle-Île' on view', Honolulu, Nov 2005-Dec 2005, p 8, col illus p 8.
Michael Wardell, Look, 'Foundation building: celebrating 21 years of raising money to buy art for the gallery', Sydney, Sep 2004, pp 14–17: p 14.
Unknown, L'impressionismo e l'età di Van Gogh, Treviso, 2002, p 458, col illus p 299, no 91.
Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2001 [for the year ended 30 June, 2001], Sydney, 2001, p 72. Loan.
Virginia Spate and Gary Hickey, Monet & Japan, Canberra, 2001, pp 35, 195, no 16, col illus pp 35, 93. 'A new and strange beauty: Monet and Japanese art' by Virgina Spate and David Bromfield, pp 1–63.
Ursula Prunster (Curator), Belle-Île: Monet, Russell & Matisse in Brittany, Sydney, 2001, pp 20, 24, 37, 60–62, 125, no 1, col illus pp 18 (detail), 70. 'Painting Belle-Île' by Ursula Prunster, pp 19–47; 'Paint, Brush & Canvas' by Paula Dredge, pp 59–67.
Unknown, Sotheby's New York: Impressionist and Modern art, part 1, New York, 16 Nov 1998, p 52, col illus p 52. Illustrated in reference to no 54, 'Entrée de Port-Goulphar, Belle-Ile' 1886.
Unknown, Monet, Köln, 1996, vol 3, pp 415–16, no 1094, col illus p 414.
Unknown, Monet à Belle-Ile, France, 1992, p 56, col illus p 57.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report for the year ended 30th June 1985, Sydney, 1985, pp 20, 31. Loan.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Society Bulletin, 'Exhibition preview: Monet painter of light', Sydney, Jun 1985, pp 4–5: p 5, illus p 5.
Unknown, Claude Monet, painter of light, Auckland, 1985, pp 14, 18, 70, no 15, col illus p 71.
Edmund Capon and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, Sydney, 1984, p 94.
Unknown, 'French impressions', Art and Australia, vol 22, no 1, Sydney, Spring 1984, pp 87–93: p 93, col illus p 90.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 1983, for the year ended 30 June 1983, Sydney, 1983, pp 14, 38. Loan.
Claude Monet au temps de Giverny, Paris, 1983, p 50, no 15, col illus p 51, fig 22.
Unknown, Claude Monet: biographie et catalogue raisonné, Lausanne, 1974-1991, vol 2, 1979, p 200, no 1094, illus p 201.
Monet, beyond Impressionism, Copenhagen, 2016, pp 77, 210, no 48, col illus p 76.
Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, vol 6, no 2, 'Some French paintings in the gallery', Sydney, Jan 1965, pp 222–25: pp 223, 225, illus p 224.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, A selection of eighty-two reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch [Art Gallery of New South Wales], Sydney, 1959, illus p , pl 58.
Illustrated souvenir: eighty reproductions from the collections of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales: a selection of eighty reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch, Sydney, [circa 1950], illus p , pl 58.
Queensland Art Gallery, French art from Australian collections, Brisbane, 1959, p , no 64. As 'Seascape'.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Purchases and acquisitions for 1959, National Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney, 1950, p 7, no 22. Not exhibited.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, col illus p 32.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2014–15, Sydney, 2015, p 33.
Unknown and Unknown, Monet/Kelly, Williamstown, 2014, pp 17–18, 34, 94, no 3, col illus p 35. 'Monet: places and process' by Sarah Lees, pp 12–27; 'Monet paintings' pp 28–47.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2012–13, Sydney, 2013, p 107.
Unknown, Australian impressionists in France, Melbourne, 2013, pp 60, 168, col illus p 60. 'John Russell and friends: Roberts, Monet, van Gogh, Matisse, Rodin' by Elena Taylor, pp 52–70; 'Index', pp 174–77.
Terence Maloon, Paths to abstraction 1867-1917, Sydney, 2010, pp 109, 285, col illus p 109.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2009–10, Sydney, 2010, pp 34, 96.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2008–09, Sydney, 2009, p 87.
Christine Dixon, Turner to Monet: the triumph of landscape painting, Canberra, 2008, pp 38, 228, no 88, col illus pp 39, 229. 'Claude Monet' by Virginia Spate, p 228.
Unknown, Monet and the Impressionists, Sydney, 2008, pp 92, 218, no 41, col illus p 101.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2006, Sydney, 2006, p 81.
Unknown, Monet à Belle-Île, France, 2006, col illus p 71.
Margaret Sawicki, ‘Monet’s Port Goulphar, Belle Ile, 1887 revisited: the significance of the frame’ in David Saunders, Joyce H Townsend and Sally Woodcock, eds. IIC 2006 Munich Congress : The object in context – crossing conservation boundaries. Contributions to the Munich Congress 28 August – 1 September 2006, London, 2006, p 313.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2004 [for the year ended 30 June 2004], Sydney, 2004, p 72. Loan.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2003 [for the year ended 30 June 2003], Sydney, 2003, p 82. Loan.