Claude Monet expert opinion from Alec Wildenstein and the Wildenstein Institute, Claude Monet JMW Turner the source          
                                Wildenstein Institute Wildenstein Institute


c/o Ms Marie-Christine Decroocq  "Wildenstein Institute"

"Thank you for your gracious reply and offer of assistance. You are probably aware that last week I sent images of a Manet, Boating Near Rueil; and Boucher, Le moineau apprivoisé for study. There is also a tiny Monet oil painting (13.2 X 16.7 cm), it is painted on the bottom panel of a vintage cigar-box (please see the attachments). The cigars were the smaller ones, the type that Monet apparently smoked. The shadow-box custom frame is also over 100 years and is clearly the original to the painting. Provenance indicates that it was inherited by Mrs. Pierson, an heir to the founder of the Aetna Insurance Co. I would greatly appreciate any information that might be recorded about any of these paintings.

Of the reply a rough translation might be: "We would like to say that after study and with our present knowledge we do not intend to, at this time, include the work reproduced below in the re-edition of the catalogue raisonné of Claude Monet."

A more interesting part to the letter  is the carefully worded standardized-footnote that acts somewhat as an all-round disclaimer. Nonetheless, it was nice to have the image of the picture signed and sealed by the top Monet official, Alec Wildenstein of the venerable Wildenstein dynasty.


Monet poses paternally with his beloved lotus pond; and unabashedly, with his cigar. There are a number of photographs that show the painter with a cigar in-hand, or mouth. The cigar-box support of the tiny painting (seen here) is surely significant.

The  Wildenstein Institute must know better than anyone how to protect the posthumous world of its  artists. Although certainly meant to be documentary, the letter from the Wildenstein institute indicates a hesitation to support this orphan completely, at least at this time; but as most collectors know, without a solid commitment by the Wildenstein cataloguers the painting is in limbo.


A much larger wintry landscape, typical of what Monet was doing around Argenteuil in 1875. He was soon to abandon landscapes with those seemingly disenfranchised human figures; in fact, he was soon to abandon the figure in his landscapes altogether.

What is the Wildenstein dynasty. Established in the 1870s it has grown more influential over the ensuing three generations by virtue of erudition, stealth, accumulation of wealth and influence, and above all, the production of catalogues. “Being the publishers of such books confers enormous power – [and among other things] the ability to authenticate paintings…as a publisher of catalogue raisonnés, the Wildensteins virtually control the scholarship on many artists from Boucher to Monet.”[i]  On site:  JMWT bequest news corresp
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[i] George Rush, Bitter Spoils, (Vanity Fair magazine March 1998), p 252.