MONET, Claude
(b. 1840, Paris, d. 1926, Giverny)

Rouen Cathedral in Full Sunlight

Oil on canvas, 107 x 73 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

When Monet began his serial compositions in the late 1880s, which initially featured haystacks, then polars, and in the early 1890s the cathedral at Rouen, these works constituted a logical progression of his artistic interests. By constantly portraying the same subject, the variables determined by the time of the day and the lighting could be particularly strongly accentuated. Different times of day and a changing colour palette were substituted for innovative subject matter. Monet included the time of the day and the dominant colours in the respective titles of his paintings as a matter of course.

Sometimes he worked simultaneously on two canvases, in order to be able to react immediately to changing light conditions. As a result, the subject of the picture receded further and further into the background. At first glance we can see the shape of a cathedral, but on closer inspection the cathedral architecture dissolves before our eyes into a vibrant ensemble, composed merely of a collection of brush strokes.