Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris
James F. Sutton, New York, by descent in 1915 to Mrs. James F. Sutton
Plaza Hotel, American Art Association sale, 16-17 January 1917
Durand-Ruel Gallery, New York
Brooks and Reed, Boston
The Rhode Island School of Design, Museum of Art, Providence (R.I.)
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1934
Jean d’Alayer de Costemore d’Arc, husband of Marie-Louise Durand-Ruel, Paris
Sam Salz Inc., New York
Private collection, since 1966
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Monet, 1895, no. 15
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Monet, 1911
New York, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Monet, October - November1935, no. 1
Paris, Galerie Rosenberg, Monet, 1936, no. 7
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Paris, Galerie des Beaux-Arts,Monet, respectively 10 May - 15 June 1952, no. 86, and 19 June - 17 July 1952, no. 67
London, Marlborough Gallery, Monet, June - July 1954, no. 43, ill. p. 38
Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Les Cathédrales de Claude Monet, 23 June - 14 November 1994, no. 11, ill. pp. 77, 97
Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Classics of Modern Art, 27 June - 19 September 1999, pp. 54-59, ill. p. 55
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Claude Monet… up to Digital Impressionism, 28 March - 4 August 2002, no. 11, ill. p. 97
Georges Clemenceau, “Révolution des Cathédrales”, La Justice, 20 May 1895
L. Earle Rowe, “Three paintings by Monet”, Bulletin of the Rhode Island School of Design, no. 3, July 1930, p. 33, ill. p. 34
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet. Biographie et Catalogue Raisonné, La Bibliothèque des Arts, Wildenstein Institute, Lausanne and Paris, 1974, vol. III, ill. pp. 166, 167
Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet in the ‘90s: The Series Painting, exhibition catalogue, Yale University Press, London and New Haven, 1989
Joachim Pissarro, Monet’s Cathedral: Rouen 1892-1894, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1990, ill. p. 16, pp. 67, 95
Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism, Catalogue Raisonné, Köln, 1997, no. 1353, pp. 561-562, ill. p. 554
Philippe Piguet, “Monet: La Peinture nécessaire”, L’Œil, no. 463, July-August 1994, ill. p. 32
In the early 1892, Claude Monet visited Rouen and decided to depict the Notre-Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic art, the highest church until nowadays in France. During his first stay in the city, he was working long hours, planning the hours of work and the breaks solely for rest depending on the daylight. He began painting many canvases at the same time, capturing each one’s atmosphere corresponding to a particular time of day, placing them successively on the easel, and passing from one to the other at the moment he deemed appropriate. However, it was not a seamless process at all, as evidenced through his massive correspondence, mainly with his second wife Alice but also with the art dealer and artist Durand-Ruel.
In April he left “completely frustrated and displeased” and returned in February 1893. His letters express his annoyance at the feeling of being at a standstill. He returned to his family home in Giverny, having already completed thirty paintings. There, he began to see the series of Cathedrals in a new light. The path to the completion of the compositions seems to end in 1894, a date set by himself.
The series gained great renown over the years and for many art lovers holds a special position among the other series created by the painter. Undoubtedly, the Rouen Cathedrals express in a better way the painter’s famous saying: “The subject is something secondary, what I want to reproduce is what lies between the subject and myself”. With his Cathedrals, Monet reverses many stereotypes regarding his art. He proves that he is not a talented artist solely for scenes of everyday life and the countryside. It was not easy at all for him to face that Gothic cathedral, to be able to imply its imposing volume by literally placing it in the centre of the composition and surrounding it with a few pieces of heaven.
As for the version presented here, it is one of the most complete paintings of the series and probably the one Monet himself appreciated the most. The charm of the colour palette dominated by pink, automatically conveys us to first minutes of the day. The viewer feels privileged before this spectacle, as it is portrayed at a time when few people go out. The sun, which is not yet shining on the façade, diffuses a light that allows us to gaze at it for some time and see all the details of the decoration. The cathedral demands respect regardless of the religious faith of the one standing before it, a fact that reminds us of the variable temporality of the passing time, but enlivens the same emotions daily.