Monet and Degas masterpieces gifted to Walker Art Gallery

The Walker Art Gallery has been allocated two Impressionist masterpieces through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. 

The Epte in Giverny (1884), a painting by Claude Monet (1840-1926), and Modiste Decorating a Hat(1891-1895), a pastel by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) will be on display in Room 10 from Saturday, 27 April. 

The acquisitions fit seamlessly into the Walker’s collection, which already holds impressive examples of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Monet’s Break-up of the ice on the Seine, near Bennecourt (1893) is one of the most recognisable paintings in its existing collection, depicting a wintery landscape in muted colours. The Epte in Giverny will provide a fascinating contrast to this, presenting a vibrant, leafy scene in the village of Giverny in Normandy, France, where the artist painted his famous water lily series. 

Degas’ Modiste Decorating a Hat depicts a milliner adjusting a hat in a shop window. It joins another work by Degas in the Walker’s collection, Woman Ironing (1892-1895) (currently on loan). Together, they reflect the artist’s interest in showing women at work. The new Degas presents a professional working woman, while Woman Ironing focuses on domestic work. Born in Paris, France, Degas is renowned for his depictions of dancers.  

Kate O’Donoghue, Curator of International Fine Art at National Museums Liverpool, said, “Claude Monet’s landscapes and Edgar Degas’ scenes of everyday life epitomise the Impressionist movement and it’s difficult to overstate quite how special it is to obtain these new works by two of Europe’s most famous artists.  

“The artworks will sit alongside works by artists such as Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, helping us to tell the story of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in a way that will no doubt inspire visitors for many years to come.”

The new acquisitions come from the collection of Mary Elliot-Blake (1904-1996) and have been owned by the Montagu family by descent. Due to the family’s connection to the city of Liverpool, the paintings were allocated to the Walker. 

Acceptance in Lieu allows those who have an Inheritance Tax bill to pay by transferring important cultural, scientific or historic objects and archives to the nation. Material accepted under the scheme is allocated to public museums, archives or libraries.

Image: The Epte in Giverny, 1884, Claude Monet (detail). From the collection of Mary Elliot-Blake. Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government and allocated to the Walker Art Gallery in 2023. c. Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool

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