architecture; city; religion - Christian
This painting is one of the earliest among the thirty paintings in Monet's Rouen Cathedral series. Begun during the winter of 1892, following the successful poplar and haystack series, the Rouen Cathedral paintings were Monet's most ambitious to date. Working on as many as eight canvases at a time, he became consumed by the desire to capture variations in light as they played out on the elaborate Gothic architecture. In his many paintings of the cathedral's facade, the complex masonry seems to dissolve into fragments of light and air. He completed many of the cathedral paintings during the winter of 1893, when he returned to Rouen to work under similar weather conditions.
A popular subject for artists, Rouen Cathedral had been presented traditionally as an awe-inspiring, monumental structure, but Monet instead focused on particular elements of the building. This painting is one of two depicting the Tour d'Albane, one of the cathedral's two towers, from a small side courtyard called the Cour d'Albane. The tower, at left, rises up behind a cluster of houses (destroyed during World War II); the scene represented for Monet the link between the town and the cathedral.