Law School Alum Chooses Stanford to Debut Previously Unknown Monet Masterpiece

Stanford, California, January 24, 2007 — These days, when an unknown work by a major Old Master is discovered, the art world and the public take notice. So it was on January 17 when New York Times reporter Carol Vogel published the article “Revealing the Monet of Pencil and Paper,” about an exhibition of Claude Monet’s unknown works on paper that will open at the Royal Academy in London and travel to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts later this year. A color illustration of a luminous pastel of a river scene leads off the article, a work of art that had been unknown — even to Monet scholars — until recently. Thanks to a Stanford Law School alumnus (Class of 1975), an art collector and owner of the drawing, the Cantor Arts Center is now the first museum to display this pastel anywhere in the world and particularly before it joins the special Monet exhibition later this year. Identified as Bank of the Seine and dated in the 1860s, the pastel is on view in the Mondavi Family Gallery at the Cantor Arts Center where it will be on display through May 2007. Until its acquisition by the Stanford alumnus, the work remained in the hands of the family in France that acquired this masterpiece at the beginning of the 20th century.

The impressionist painter Monet drew throughout his career, but scholars have rarely studied his drawings, pastels, and prints. Even in his own time Monet spoke little of his works on paper, emphasizing instead the novelty of painting outdoors, a process that he and other Impressionists championed. Monet scholar Richard Kendall, co-curator of the exhibition (with James Ganz of the Clark Art Institute) has noted that by the mid 1860s (the period of this pastel) “Monet was making ‘brilliant’ drawings of the Normandy coast. But we still don’t know why he did them.” According to Kendall, Monet took up pastel again in the 1880s and for two weeks in 1901 when he went to London. As Kendall concludes “Monet never meant for the public to see them. It all comes back to marketing. His public image was important to him, and drawings complicated that picture. In fact, they even contradicted it.”

When Jane and Leland Stanford founded the university and donated their art to the museum, there were no impressionist masterpieces. At last, through the generosity of this law school alum, the museum has its Monet — at least for the moment.

Claude Monet
Untitled, early 1860s
Pastel on board
18 x 25 inches
Private Collection of 1975 Stanford Law School Alumnus