Claude Monet’s ‘Moulin de Limetz’ Could Fetch $25 Million at Auction

The 1888 work depicts a grain mill on the River Epte near the artist’s home in Giverny, France

Impressionist painting of water's edge and green tree
Moulin de Limetz, Claude Monet, 1888 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

When Claude Monet was in his early 40s, he moved his family to Giverny, a village in northern France. He had only recently discovered the town when he saw it from the window of a train. The artist, a founder of the Impressionist movement, was struck by the area, which would inspire some of his most famous works.

In 1888, about five years after the move, he painted a grain mill on the River Epte in Limetz-Villez, a village about a mile away from his home. Next month, the artwork he produced—Moulin de Limetz (The Mill at Limetz)—will go on sale at a Christie’s auction in New York, where it’s expected to sell for between $18 million and $25 million.

Moulin de Limetz is jointly owned by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the heirs of collector Ethel B. Atha. Atha bequeathed the painting to the museum as a partial gift in 1986. Her family owns one-third of the work, while the museum owns two-thirds.

Late last year, the family decided to sell the piece. While the museum looked into buying out their shares, that was “ultimately not possible,” says Julián Zugazagoitia, the director and CEO, in a statement. The museum will use its proceeds from the sale to establish a new acquisition fund named in honor of the Atha family.

“What I hope is that through the great eye and talent of our curators in the different areas they collect, that we might identify the Monets of tomorrow,” Zugazagoitia tells Penta’s Abby Schultz.

Moulin de Limetz has been on view at the museum since 2008. While it isn’t as well-known as some of the other works Monet completed near Giverny—such as the artist’s painting of his lily garden—it still impresses viewers who stumble across it.

“The riverfront ode did enjoy renewed excitement when it appeared in ‘Monet and Chicago’ at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020,” writes Artnet’s Vittoria Benzine. “The titular mill appears in the distance, obscured by sumptuous leaves. Monet’s masterful portrayal of the water’s surface, however, rendered in rich hues and an impasto finish, is the painting’s greatest triumph.”

A French art dealer named Paul Durand-Ruel first acquired Moulin de Limetz from Monet in 1891. It eventually made its way to the United States, where Joseph S. and Ethel B. Atha purchased it in 1941, per the Observer’s Christa Terry. When Ethel’s daughter, Ethelyn Atha Chase, died last year, the family decided to sell.

In November, a nearly identical piece sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $25.6 million. It’s now on view at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany.

Of the two paintings, “it’s difficult to say which one is more beautiful,” Zugazagoitia tells Penta. “They vary a little bit by just the intonations of the color, because [Monet was] trying to capture light at different moments. Most likely he had the two easels next to each other, and he was painting at different moments one and the other.”

The museum has several other Monet works in its collection, including Boulevard des Capucines and a work from the famous Water Lilies series depicting the artist’s garden in Giverny.

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