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The Most Expensive Lilies in the World

Aug 23, 2008
A late period work by Claude Monet was recently purchased for over 80 million US dollars at Christie's in London. The painting, entitled 'Le Bassin aux Nympheas' set the record for a painting by Monet. The previous record for one of the impressionist master's works was 41 million dollars. This record selling price kicked off a week-long auction of major artistic works.

When the painting was unveiled, hands shot up all over the auction house. Six would-be buyers bid furiously for the piece, speaking with their clients on their phones. When the price reached 70 million, one of the auctioneers told a women in the front row to take as long as she likes. The woman, Tania Buckrell Pos of Arts and Management International, ultimately won the piece for her company.

Formerly owned by J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller, two collectors from Columbus, Indiana, the painting is one of the most important pieces of Monet's late period. Monet signed and dated this and three other pieces from this time in his life, and put them up for sale himself. One of the other water lily garden pieces is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, while another is in a private collection. Sadly, the fourth painting in the series was cut in two shortly before World War II.

The painting was purchased in 1971 for US $320,000 and was kept in a private collection, away from public viewings. Mr. Miller died in 2004, and his wife died in February 2008, leaving their estate to their children. In their lifetimes, the Millers supported historic buildings in Columbus, turning the city into a showcase of modern architecture. The painting was likely auctioned off to help pay estate taxes.

Monet is considered to be the founder of the impressionist movement. In fact, the term impressionism comes from the title of one of his paintings, 'Impression, Sunrise'. A prominent art critic of the age coined the term as a derogatory statement, but impressionist painters gladly adopted the title.

He developed his style while visiting the Louvre in Paris as a young man. Other artists had come to the Louvre in order to copy the works of the previous masters that covered the walls. Monet decided to sit by a window and create works based on what he saw outside. Thus, his impression of nature flowed onto his canvas.

Monet created his water garden as a method of rerouting a river. He chose a wide variety of water lilies in order to bring as many different colours to the garden. The decision to include so many different flowers implies that he purposefully made the garden for use in his work.

After Monet's death from lung cancer, his home and water lily garden was given to his heirs, who then donated the land to French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966. In 1980, the property was opened for public visits. Through the Fondation Claude Monet, the home was refurbished to represent the exact living situation of the artist at the time of his greatest work.
About the Author
Tribune Properties produce travel sites for European destinations, and include hotels in Paris and the weather in Paris plus for those travelling to the South of France hotels in Nice
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