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Kimbell buys MoMA Monet

The work was chosen by Monet himself for his final retrospective in 1924

The Kimbell Art Museum has purchased Monet’s “Weeping willow” (1919) from the Museum of Modern Art in New York reportedly for $5-6 million. One of ten surviving versions of the subject, the work has a distinguished provenance. Monet himself chose it for his final retrospective at Galerie Georges Petit in 1924, having sold it two years earlier to Baron Kojiro Matsukata, whose collection later formed the core of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. In two visits to Monet’s studio, the Japanese expatriate bought some two dozen paintings, one of the largest private holdings of the artist’s work. During World War II, the bulk of Matsukata’s collection was confiscated by the French government, which put the “Weeping willow” on the market in 1947. The painting was acquired by MoMA’s future chairman David Rockefeller, who kept it until 1992 and then donated it to the museum. (In the 1950s the Matsukata family negotiated a settlement with the French concerning the seized works, obviating the issue of restitution claims on the Kimbell painting.) It was offered to the Kimbell through New York dealer William Acquavella on behalf of MoMA. The painting was exhibited in the Kimbell’s recent exhibition “Monet and the Mediterranean,” which travels this month to the Brooklyn Museum of Art (see p.10).