Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Cathédrale de Rouen, effet de soleil, fin de journée
Huile sur toile 100 × 65 cm
Legs Michel Monet (1966)
In 1892, Monet made regular sojourns in Rouen, where he stayed in two apartments giving onto the cathedral. Working at the window, he embarked on an ambitious project that would occupy him from February to April in two successive years: painting the building’s western portal from several different angles and at different times of day. The letter he wrote to Alice on March 18, 1892, gives an idea of the scale of the task: “I am working like a slave—nine canvases today. You can’t imagine how tired I am, but Rouen is wonderful” (Wildenstein, 1979b, no. 1140). When exhibited at Durand-Ruel’s in 1895, this new series excited art lovers and had critics celebrating the artist’s experimental approach and determination to push back the limits of painting with new formal experiments. In the version at the Musée Marmottan Monet, which does not have the thickly applied paint found in later canvases from this series, Monet conveys his vision of sun playing on the stone through the harmony of pink, beige, and yellow, with contrasting mauves and blues for the areas of shadow.