Five of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series – including two never before seen in the UK – will be exhibited next year at the Tate Liverpool, the gallery has announced.
The Water-Lily Pond will be flown over from the Albertina in Vienna and the slightly earlier work Water Lilies, currently in the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, are the two debutants. Both paintings were begun in the final years of World War I.
They’ll be hung beside Water Lilies 1907, on loan from the Göteborgs Konstmuseum in Sweden, Water Lilies 1916 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and another from 1916 on long-term loan from the National Gallery.
Alongside the Monets will be work from JMW Turner, the English Romantic landscape painter and Cy Twombly, the American painter who died in July.
Jeremy Lewison, curator of the exhibition, said: "The water lily paintings mark the crowning moment of Monet's career and are among the most recognised of his paintings. To have five major examples in an exhibition is incredibly rare. Painted against the backdrop of the first world war, they represent an oasis of calm while all hell was breaking loose around him. For Monet these paintings assuaged his sense of personal grief. Mourning and loss are key themes in this exhibition for all three artists."
Sat in his flower garden in Giverny, Monet composed around 250 oil paintings in the The Water Lilies series, creating some of the most instantly-recognisable and widely-adored artworks of the early 20th century. He created the pond and planted it with the lilies deliberately so he could capture them at any time of the day or year. The collection formed the main focus of his work for the final thirty years of his life.
This idyllic image is at odds with what was going on for Monet both internally where his eyes were struggling with cataracts (influencing, according to some critics, many of the paintings’ brushstrokes) and externally, where his only surviving son was fighting at the front of a world war that was so close the sound of gunshots shook his studio.
Paintings from the series are also among the most valuable from the period. In 2007 one sold for £18.5m at a Sotheby’s auction in London, and a year later another, Le bassin aux nymphéas, sold for almost £41 million at Christie's.
In 2010 the 1906 Nymphéas work was auctioned with an estimated sale price of between £30-40m. It attracted bits of up to £29m but ultimately failed to sell.
Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings will be shown at Tate Liverpool between 22 June and 28 October 2012.