Rouen CathedralRouen Cathedral
©Rouen Cathedral

Monet and his cathedrals

He made the Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral his muse for nearly two years… It is difficult to pass in front of the monument without thinking of the most famous impressionist painter who transformed it into an artistic icon. Relive the passage of Claude Monet in the Norman capital!

Claude Monet

in Rouen

During the springs of 1892 and 1893, Claude Monet decided to follow up on the Millstones and Poplars series, devoting a new series of canvases to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Rouen. This is his most ambitious project with a set of twenty-eight canvases taking the western facade of the Notre-Dame Cathedral as his model. Monet attempted to capture the instantaneous by observing the same model under the effect of various lighting and at different times of the day. Claude Monet in Rouen painted up to 14 versions at a time, switching from one painting to another according to the variations in light according to the times. The first paintings of the Cathedral were painted in February 1892 and depict the Albanian court. These are the only paintings done outdoors.

He then moved to the Cathedral square where he worked on the western facade from three different vantage points. In particular, he settled on the second floor of the Bureau des Finances, a lingerie store in Monet’s time, it is now the tourist information office of Rouen Tourism. It is from this building, where the view of the stone lace of the Cathedral is incomparable, that the artist painted his most luminous and colorful Cathedrals. He himself speaks of red and golden patterns.


of Impressionism

It was not until after he had completed his Cathedrals, that Claude Monet entered the monument for the first time. He completed the paintings from the two campaigns in his studio in Giverny and postdated them to 1894. Twenty of these paintings were presented in 1895 at the famous art dealer Durand-Ruel, where they were admired by famous painters such as Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro and Renoir. Claude Monet and his Cathedrals campaign take a prominent place in the development and promotion of Impressionism in France and around the world.

Today, the paintings are scattered around the world contributing tothe worldwide fame of the Norman capital’s cathedral. Seven Cathedrals are preserved in France, including one at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen that was donated by a local patron to give to the city back in 1909.

Follow in the footsteps of Claude Monet from the Cathedral Square to Giverny via the panorama of the Colline Sainte-Catherine in Bonsecours, where he created a general view of the city. Not to mention the impressionist gallery at the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts which exhibits several of his works.