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Painting of a sublime placid sunny scene of small sail boats on the water near green land on the left.

Most of the sail boats have their sails down as they float on calm water in this blue-sky day. A terra-cotta colored boat right of center faces us, reflecting its color into the water. Green land situated on the left includes a dock, and a house with terra-cotta roof partially obscured by three thin tall trees, also reflecting into the water. A few white puffy clouds drift by on the right, a shear blue-grey mist hovers over the horizon dotted by green trees in the distance. Five white water birds float on the left close to shore.

Gallery Text

For most of the 1870s, Monet lived in Argenteuil, a town on the Seine only seventeen miles from Paris and accessible to the city by train. He often worked outdoors in his own boat and painted this basin several times, though the lower vantage point of this scene suggests a perspective from the shoreline. Eliminating the factory smokestacks that were in fact visible at this location, Monet instead highlights the area’s picturesque and recreational aspects, including the boat rental area on the left.

Impressionist painters like Monet deliberately eschewed the finished structure and line of academic painting, but the irresolution of this painting has led to its occasional categorization as a “study.” As revealed in x-radiographs, the artist reworked the composition in several areas, removing a sixth paddling duck on the left, for example, by painting over it. The band of lavender brushstrokes along the horizon line is the site of a similar revision.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Claude Monet, French (Paris, France 1840 - 1926 Giverny, France)
Red Boats, Argenteuil
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Les Bateaux Rouges, Argenteuil / Les Bateaux d'Argenteuil
Alternate Title: Red Boats II
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
61.8 x 82.5 cm (24 5/16 x 32 1/2 in.)
framed: 91 x 111.2 x 10.2 cm (35 13/16 x 43 3/4 x 4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l. Claude Monet 75


Recorded Ownership History
?J. B. Faure, Paris, 1876. [Durand-Ruel, New York], sold; [James F. Sutton, (1843 or 49 - 1915)] sold; ([his sale, through Durand-Ruel, 1917, no. 137]. Émile Laffon, Paris, sold; [through his sale]; to Paul Rosenberg, New York, sold; to Maurice Wertheim, (1943-1951), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • 2e Exposition de peinture, exh. cat., Galerie Durand-Ruel (Paris, France, 1876), no. 160
  • Monet-Rodin, exh. cat., Galerie Georges Petit (Paris, France, 1889), no. 27
  • Arsène Alexandre, "La Collection E. L.", La Renaissance (October 1933 - November 1933), vol. XVI, pp. 182, 193
  • Alfred M. Frankfurter, "Today's Collectors: Modern Milestones", Art News (June 1946), vol. XLV, no. 4, p. 64
  • French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), p. 10, repr. p. 11
  • John Rewald, The History of Impressionism [1st ed.], The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, 1946), p. 347, repr. p. 285
  • Oscar Reuterswärd, Monet, en konstnarshistorik, Albert Bonniers Förlag (Stockholm, Sweden, 1948), p. 282
  • La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), no. 3, pp. 9-10
  • A Collector's Exhibition: Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Collections of Members of the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Fine Arts., exh. cat., Knoedler & Co. Inc. (New York, NY, 1950), no. 4
  • Howard Devree, "By French Masters: The Metropolitan Shows Wertheim Collection", The New York Times (New York, NY, July 6 1952), p. 6, p. 6
  • John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art, Henry Holt and Co. (New York, NY, 1959), repr. p. 96
  • The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 28, repr. p. 28
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 32, pl. 11
  • L'Opera completa di Claude Monet, 1870-1889, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy, 1972), p. 97; repr. p. 96
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), no. 20
  • Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et Catalogue Raisonné, La Bibliothèque des Arts (Lausanne, Switzerland, 1974 - 1991), no. 369
  • Robert L. Herbert, "Method and Meaning in Monet", Art In America (September 1979), vol. 67, pp. 90-108, p. 108
  • Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, England, 1982), pl. XX, pp. 118-120, 149
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 219, p. 192, repr. in color
  • Helen Langdon, Impressionist Seasons, Phaidon Press (Oxford, England, 1986), repr. in color no. 11, p. 37; text p. 36
  • John House, Monet: Nature into Art, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, England, 1986), pl. 20, pp. 18, 83
  • Bernard Denvir, The Impressionists at First Hand, Thames & Hudson (London, England, 1987), repr. in b/w, p. 81
  • John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 4, p. 45-47, repr. in color p. 46
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 120; repr. as no. 348
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 5, p. 41
  • Richard Mühlberger, O Que Faz de um Monet um Monet?, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1993), pp. 48-49, repr. in color with detail
  • Richard Mühlberger, What Makes a Monet a Monet?, Metropolitan Museum of Art / Viking (New York, NY, 1993), repr. in color inside back cover and details, p. 48
  • Lawrence S. Cunningham and John J. Reich, Culture and Values: A Survey of the Western Humanities, Harcourt Brace College Publishers (New York, NY, 1994), pp. 365-366, repr. in color fig 16.7
  • Lynn Federle Orr, Monet: Late Paintings of Givenchy from the Musée Marmottan, exh. cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA, 1994), p. 18, repr. in color fig. 4
  • H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson, History of Art [5th ed.], Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1995), pp. 705-706, repr. in color, fig. 949
  • H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson, History of Art for Young People, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1997), p. 462, fig. 396
  • Christie's Impressionist and Nineteenth Century Art, auct. cat., Christie's, New York (New York NY, November 18 1998), under no. 13, repr. in color as fig. 3
  • Norio Shimada and Keiko Sakagami, Claude Monet 1881-1926, exh. cat., Toppan Tanc (Japan, 2001), p. 92, fig. 66, repr. in color
  • Lawrence S. Cunningham and John J. Reich, Culture & Values: A Survey of the Humanities, Thomson Wadsworth (Belmont, CA, 2006), pp. 491-492, repr. in color as fig.18.7
  • Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6, p. 303
  • Camran Mani and Cecilia Zhou, ed., A Collection of Perspectives: Ho Family Student Guides at the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2023), pp. 14-15, repr. p. 15

Exhibition History

  • Deuxieme exposition de peinture, Rue le Peletier, Paris, 04/01/1876 - 04/30/1876
  • Monet-Rodin, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 01/01/1889 - 12/31/1889
  • French Painting since 1870 lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1946 - 09/07/1946; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 07/01/1953 - 09/13/1953
  • La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949
  • A Collector's Exhibition, M. Knoedler & Co., Newport, 02/06/1950 - 02/25/1950
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952
  • French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972
  • Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990
  • Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at