Rouen Cathedral: Setting Sun
MONET, Claude (1840 - 1926)
Media: oil on canvas
Size: 100.0 x 65.0 cm
Acquired: 1952; Bequest; Gwendoline Davies
Accession Number: NMW A 2482
Collection: The Davies Sisters Collection
Working from the window of a milliner's shop overlooking its façade, Monet began his series of over thirty views of Rouen Cathedral in February 1892. He returned in February 1893 and completed it at Giverny in 1893-94. This painting of the cathedral viewed by the light of the setting sun is one of twenty Cathédrales exhibited to immense critical success at Paris in 1895. As a record of the ways in which light transforms the appearance of a motif, the series nears the limits of 'scientific' Impressionism. The 1890s were a decade of nationalist revival in France and Monet's choice of a great French mediaeval monument in the city where Joan of Arc was martyred implies a consciously patriotic purpose. The unusual frame of this painting, with historicising pilasters and the inscription Cl. Monet in gothic letters, suggests that a previous owner perceived it as a nationalist symbol as well as a dispassionate record of light effects. Gwendoline Davies purchased this work at Paris in December 1917.