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The days of Claude Monet‘s youth were often spent outdoors on the bluffs and beaches near la Havre. Those memories of untamed grassy bluffs, stunning cliffs, bracing winds, and restless seas of that coastal region helped shape Monet’s temperament and bearing as a painter. The man who painted Coup de vent, at forty years of age, was the same robust and intrepid wayfarer who challenged himself with feats that demanded the physicality and determination of a mountain goat.
Painted from the Normandy coast, where gusts of wind race through town ten months of the year, the title Coup de vent (“Gust of Wind“) shares that Monet painted this scene on yet another blustery day. Seeing the easterly sway and lean of these windswept trees, it is no surprise that the wind almost always sweeps through this region from the west. When Monet arrived at the fashionable Trouville beach resort in early September, the winds were at their most blustery and swift.
The weather encountered while painting Coup de vent during the late summer of 1881, was, in fact, so severe that this would be the shortest of Monet’s many trips to the Normandy coast. He wrote to his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, on 13 September that the persistent rain drove Monet to his home in Vétheuil empty-handed, but this report was only half true. Often prone to exaggerating his disappointments, Monet completed four canvases during this particular trip to Normandy: a singular scene painted from the beach at Sainte-Adresse and three lovely pictures looking seaward from the bluffs above Trouville. Today, Coup de vent is the only one of these four works that remains in private hands.
Coup de vent evokes Monet’s spectacular gift for expressing unbridled intensity and passion for color, light, and harmony. The bluff from which he painted commands the scene’s high ground and provides a plunging perspective of sloping and folding contours balanced by the flattened expanse of sea. While delicate atmospheric nuances grace the painting’s surface, the planar aspect of the sea conveys the Japonisme influence Monet had absorbed and incorporated into his compositions by this time. Nevertheless, it is the trees that transport the viewer to this windswept coast where they have stood since time immemorial under a constant barrage of the elements.
Still, inclement weather is only part of the story behind this painting, as Monet had not arrived at Trouville brimming with intention and resolve but with the weight and memories of past experiences. Trouville is where Boudin and Jongkind introduced him to landscape painting en plein air, and Monet had stayed here with his late-wife Camille and their young son Jean just before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. So, the second anniversary of Camille’s death on 5 September likely preoccupied Monet while painting Coup de vent, as the piece was executed in late August or early September of this gloomy, ill-weathered trip.
Furthermore, Monet’s excursion to the Normandy coast was crafted to avoid further emotional discomfort at home. In 1877, Monet’s recently bankrupt friend, Ernest Hoschedé, moved his family into the Monets‘ Vétheuil home, but the two families’ cohabitation was complicated as Monet developed feelings for Ernest’s wife, Alice. By 1881, the two men could not tolerate each other’s presence. Ernest spent most of his time in Paris, while Alice remained in the countryside with Monet, who was now a widower, and their children. When Ernest Hoschedé would visit his family, Monet made a point to be elsewhere, as was the case on 28 August 1881 when Ernest arrived in Vétheuil for his son Jacques’ communion.
Although Monet was determined to avoid interacting with Ernest Hoschedé, he had become somewhat reliant on Alice’s company. It is no exaggeration that she was “essential in enabling Monet to avoid . . . pathological mourning and creative paralysis.” (Mary Mathews Gedo, Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artist’s Life, 2010, pp. 215-16). Grieving his first wife, Camille, and distraught by the separation from Alice, who was already widely regarded as Monet’s second wife, the blustery coast of Coup de vent is perhaps a representation of Monet’s emotional tumult.
Looking back, an appreciation of Monet’s environmental and emotional circumstances informs a full appreciation of Coup de vent. The combination of challenging weather and emotional strife resulted in a small but compelling group of four paintings, and Coup de vent is the only one of these four works that remains in private hands today. Durand-Ruel bought Coup de vent from Monet in 1883 and it was subsequently sold to the American Harris Whittemore collector in 1891. Whittemore, a close friend of Mary Cassat, would go on to develop an important collection of Impressionist masterpieces.
Claude Monet during the Vétheuil periodPhotographed by Benque in Paris c. 1880.
Eugène Boudin, "The Coast at Tourgéville", c.1865-1900Oil on fabric, 18 3/16 x 24 1/16 in. Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
Claude Monet, "Camille on the Beach in Trouville", 1870Oil on canvas, 15 x 18 1/4 in. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.
Ernest HoschedéAnonymous photograph
"Coup de vent" displayed next to "Haystacks in the Sun, Morning Effect" (1891)The hallway at the Harris Whittemore house, with Monet’s “Haystacks in the Sun, Morning Effect” and “Coup de Vent” (“Gust of Wind”).
Additional Works from The Trouville Series
The graph by Art Market Research shows that since 1976, paintings by Monet have increased at a 9.6% annual rate of return.
The graph by Art Market Research shows that since June 2020, paintings by Monet have increased at a 67.8% annual rate of return.
- Since 1976, Monet paintings have increased at a 9.6% annual rate of return.
- Of the 1,900 approximate paintings by Monet in existence, there are currently about 800 paintings owned privately worldwide that could ever come up for sale. Over time, many of the 800 privately-held works will inevitably make their way into museum collections, further limiting supply.
- Due to the diminishing supply of quality paintings by Monet, our thesis is that those priced under $5 million are the most likely to increase in value, and the quickest to do so, within the span of a few years, up to $8-10 million.
- Many of our wealthiest international clients seek blue-chip artworks as investments, particularly Monet paintings, because they are tangible, portable assets.
- Monet’s paintings depicting the coast of Normandy are among the artist’s most desirable. As one of a small group of only four paintings, Coup de vent is the last piece of the Trouville series to remain in private hands.
Top Results at Auction
"Meules" (1891) sold for $110,747,000.
"Nymphéas en fleur" (c. 1914-1917) sold for $84,687,504.
"Meule" (1891) sold for $81,447,504.
"Le bassin aux nymphéas" (1919) sold for $80,379,592.
Comparable Paintings Sold at Auction
"Vétheuil" (1880) sold for $14,257,865.
- While the size and color palette are similar, Coup de vent‘s treatment of the light exudes deeper shadows.
- Compared to Vétheuil, Coup de vent exhibits closer attention to the landscape through Monet’s very animated brushwork.
- As the title implies, Monet’s rendering of the atmosphere and wind is far more pronounced in Coup de vent than in the more static composition of Vétheuil.
"Antibes vue de la Salis" (1888) sold for $13,342,400.
- Both Antibes vue de la Salis and Coup de vent have an incredible array of color and brushwork variations.
- The dark palette of Antibes vue de la Salis forces the emphasis of the composition onto the background.
- With Coup de Vent, Monet’s approach to the painting was more holistic, as the artist paid equal attention to the fore, mid, and background.
"Vétheuil" (1879) sold for $10,491,102.
- Similar in scale and year to Coup de vent, this painting was sold over four years ago and achieved more than $2,000,000 above the high estimate.
- Since this 2018 sale, Monet’s market has grown even stronger as there is a persistent desire among collectors to acquire works with all the key elements of impressionism, like Coup de vent.
"L'Église de Varengeville, soleil couchant" (1882) sold for $9,263,939.
- This painting has similar imagery but is smaller than Coup de Vent.
- Considering the growth of Monet’s market in the eight years since this painting sold, L’Église de Varengeville, soleil couchant would be valued significantly higher if available today.
Similar Paintings in Museum Collections
The Wildenstein Plattner Institute’s catalogue raisonné of Monet’s paintings, the authoritative writings on Monet’s career, lists Coup de vent as no. 688 on page 258 (illustrated on page 259) in Volume II of the text.