Charles Frechon - Rouen from the Left BankCharles Frechon - Rouen from the Left Bank
©Charles Frechon - Rouen from the Left Bank| JF LANGE

The Rouen School

Do you know the Rouen School? Rouen, the Seine Valley and more broadly Normandy are considered the land of Impressionism. The city of Rouen played a very important role in the history of this artistic movement.

The school of Rouen

The impressionist model


A land of inspiration

Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Paul Gauguin or Camille Pissarro stayed or lived in Rouen. The great impressionist painters left their mark in Rouen and immortalized monuments or districts of the city. Monet delivered a view of Rouen from the panorama of Sainte-Catherine Hill, and the world-famous Cathedrals series. While Sisley and Gauguin devoted themselves to the surrounding countryside and the banks of the Seine with views of Bihorel, La Bouille and Sahurs. Pissarro, the most prolific painter in Rouen with 67 paintings, delivered contrasting landscapes. On one side the historic center, especially from the rue de l’épicerie. On the other, views of the industrial left bank with canvases centered on the Boieldieu Bridge.

The presence of the great masters gave Rouen an international reputation, exhibiting its streets in museums around the world. It also profoundly influenced the artistic production of Rouen. Thanks to her, local artists embarked on the modern path of impressionism. This group of painters who formed in Rouen at the end of the nineteenth century is known today as the School of Rouen.

Angrand, Lemaître, Delattre, Fréchon

The first School of Rouen

The Rouen avant-garde was composed of four artists: Charles Angrand, Léon Lemaître, Joseph Delattre and Charles Fréchon. The academician Eugène Brieux gave them the nickname of “Musketeers” in his writings in 1889:

“Like the three musketeers, the Rouen Impressionists are four. Like the three musketeers again, they are young, ardent, loving the struggle, (…)”

While Charles Angrand became close to Seurat during his stays in Paris, the other three grouped around Camille Pissarro, who worked regularly on Rouen. The painters of the School of Rouen will favor plein air painting, small touches and an important place given to the play of shadows and light.

These painters succeeded through their works to express their attachment to their native land. They also managed to capture the changing and misty air atmosphere, so particular to the Norman banks of the Seine.