National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Rouen Cathedral, West Façade Claude Monet (artist)
French, 1840 - 1926
Rouen Cathedral, West Façade, 1894
oil on canvas
overall: 100.1 x 65.9 cm (39 3/8 x 25 15/16 in.) framed: 121.6 x 88.3 cm (47 7/8 x 34 3/4 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
On View
From the Tour: Claude Monet: The Series Paintings
Object 3 of 7

Monet worked on a number of canvases simultaneously, moving from one to the next as the light and weather changed. From the late 1860s Monet had attempted to transcribe his sensory impression of the landscape, but his intentions were now different. He continued to claim that his works were spontaneous records of his visual experience, but increasingly, he elaborated on them in the studio, seeking qualities not strictly based on observation. With each layer of paint he added, in fact, the further the picture seemed to depart from its subject, becoming pure paint and effect.

He brought the cathedral paintings back to his home in Giverny (about halfway between Paris and Rouen). Heavily painted surfaces reveal him struggling at times to finish these paintings. Monet conceived of them as a single project and did not consider any one complete until all were finished. He finally exhibited twenty of them in Paris in 1895. Monet's aims were no longer to simply record his sensory experience, but to explore light and color more deliberately as purely artistic concerns and as expressions of mood. He was seeking, he wrote a friend while working on the cathedral series, "more serious qualities, that one might live longer with one of these canvases."

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