Monet - Rouen Cathedral - New York

"Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight)". 1894. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Monet - Rouen Cathedral - Paris  Monet - Rouen Cathedral - Washington

Left: "The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in morning light, harmony in blue". 1894. Paris, Musée d'Orsay.
Right: "The Portal of Rouen Cathedral and the tower d'Albane (soleil), harmony in blue and gold". 1894. Washington, National Gallery of Art


Rouen Cathedral (series of paintings)

CLAUDE MONET (French, 1840-1926)

Oil on canvas
Various museums (including Metropolitan Museum, New York; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; Musée Marmottan, Paris; National Gallery of Art, Washington...)

"In front of the twenty views of the building by Monet, one notices that the Art, in its persistence of expressing the nature with increasing exactitude, teaches us to watch, to perceive, to feel..."
Georges Clemenceau

"The climax of Impressionism". That is how the series of views of Rouen Cathedral painted by Claude Monet between 1892 and 1894 has been best described. The 31 canvases showing the façade of Rouen Cathedral under different conditions of light and weather were widely admired in their era, and they were praised by later artist like Wassily Kandinsky or Roy Lichtenstein.

The representation of a same pictorial object at different moments with the aim of observing the changes caused by the natural light was not new for Claude Monet. Between 1890 and 1891, the artist had already created a series of 15 canvases representing a group of haystacks in the outskirts of Giverny. But with the "Cathedral" series Monet went even beyond: here the aim is not to represent a tangible model -as haystacks- under different light conditions. In this series, the authentic protagonist is the dynamic quality of the light and the atmosphere, and the Gothic Cathedral looks like a simple background.

As Clemenceau explained, in Monet's Cathedrals "the great temple is in itself a testament of the unifying sunlight, and sends its mass against the brightness of the sky".

Text: G. Fernández,


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