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Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight)

Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny)

Date:
1894
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
39 1/4 x 25 7/8 in. (99.7 x 65.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915
Accession Number:
30.95.250
  • Gallery Label

    Monet painted more than thirty views of Rouen Cathedral in 1892–93. Moving from one canvas to another as each day progressed, he painted the facade with highly textured brushstrokes that convey the aspect of sculpted stone and make the atmosphere and light palpable. Monet later finished the works in his studio at Giverny, carefully adjusting the pictures both independently and in relation to each other. Hence, most are signed and dated 1894, as is this example. In 1895, Monet exhibited twenty of his cathedral pictures at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. This one was titled Le Portail (Soleil), or The Portal (Sunlight).

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Claude Monet 94

  • Provenance

    [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1895; bought from the artist; sold in May 1895 for 15,000 francs to Davis]; Theodore M. Davis, Newport, R.I. (1895–d. 1915; his estate, on loan to the MMA, 1915–30)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Durand-Ruel. "Exposition de Tableaux de Claude Monet," May 10–31, 1895, no. 4, 5, or 6 (as "Le Portail [Soleil]" under the general heading "La cathédrale de Rouen").

    Worcester Art Museum. "Winter Exhibition," Winter 1898–99, no. 45 (as "Cathedral at Rouen," lent by Mr. Theodore M. Davis).

    Boston. Copley Hall. "Loan Collection of Paintings by Claude Monet and Eleven Sculptures by Auguste Rodin," March 1905, no. 94 (lent by Theodore M. Davis, Esq.).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscape Paintings," May 14–September 30, 1934, no. 50.

    New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Claude Monet: Seasons and Moments," March 9–May 15, 1960, no. 65.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 80).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 379.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Painter's Light," October 5–November 10, 1971, no. 30.

    Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 99.

    Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 99.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

  • References

    Lucien Pissarro. Letter. March 1893 [translated excerpt published in W.S. Meadmore, "Lucien Pissarro: Un coeur simple," New York, 1963, p. 70].

    Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. May 9, 1894 [published in Janine Bailly-Herzberg, ed., "Correspondance de Camille Pissarro," 5 vols., Paris, 1980–1991, vol. 3, no. 1005, p. 450], mentions that an expected exhibition of Monet's "Cathédrales" will not occur.

    Georges Clemenceau. Letter to Claude Monet. May 21, 1895 [published in Jean-Baptiste Duroselle et al., "Georges Clemenceau à son ami Claude Monet: Correspondance," Paris, 1993, pp. 31–32, 39–40, 71], discusses Exh. Paris 1895 and his review [see Ref. Clemenceau 1895].

    Georges Clemenceau. Letter to Gustave Geffroy. May 18, 1895 [published in Jean-Baptiste Duroselle et al., "Georges Clemenceau à son ami Claude Monet: Correspondance," Paris, 1993, p. 39].

    Georges Clemenceau. "Révolution de Cathédrales." La Justice (May 20, 1895) [published in François Bergot et al., "Rouen, Les 'Cathédrales' de Monet," exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, 1994, pp. 99–103].

    Henry Eon. "Les Cathédrales de Claude Monet." La Plume no. 147 (June 1, 1895), p. 259.

    Gustave Geffroy. "Claude Monet." Le Journal (May 10, 1895) [reprinted in Gustave Geffroy, "La Vie Artistique," Paris, vol. 6, 1900, pp. 165–67].

    "Exposition Claude Monet." L'Art Moderne 15 (May 26, 1895), p. 164.

    Georges Lecomte. "Les Cathédrales de M. Claude Monet." La Nouvelle revue 94 (June 1, 1895), p. 672.

    Louis Lumet. "Sensations d'Art (Claude Monet)." L'Enclos no. 3 (June 1895), pp. 44–45.

    Camille Mauclair. "Choses d'art." Mercure de France 66 (June 1895), pp. 357–58.

    Thadée Natanson. "Expositions I. M. Claude Monet." La revue blanche 8 (June 1, 1895), pp. 521–23.

    Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. May 26, 1895 [published in Janine Bailly-Herzberg, ed., "Correspondance de Camille Pissarro," 5 vols., Paris, 1980–1991, vol. 4, no. 1138, p. 75].

    Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. June 1, 1895 [published in Janine Bailly-Herzberg, ed., "Correspondance de Camille Pissarro," 5 vols., Paris: 1980–1991, vol. 4, no. 1140, p. 78].

    A[ry]. R[enan]. "Petites Expositions: Cinquante Tableaux de M. Claude Monet." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts no. 20 (May 18, 1895), p. 186.

    Thiébault-Sisson. "Au Jour Le Jour: L'exposition Claude Monet." Le Temps (May 12, 1895), unpaginated.

    Gustave Geffroy. La Vie artistique. 5, Paris, 1897, p. 240.

    Léon Bazalgette. L'Esprit Nouveau. Paris, 1898, pp. 373, 376–79, 389–91.

    Sam A. Lewisohn. Painters and Personality: A Collector's View of Modern Art. [New York], 1937, pp. 85–86, pl. 44.

    Preface by Edward Alden Jewell in French Impressionists and Their Contemporaries Represented in American Collections. New York, 1944, ill. p. 145 (color).

    Oscar Reuterswärd. Monet. Stockholm, 1948, p. 287.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art Miniatures, French Impressionists: Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and Boudin. 27, Album 51, New York, 1951, unpaginated, ill. (color).

    George Heard Hamilton. Claude Monet's Paintings of Rouen Cathedral. London, 1960, fig. 2.

    William C. Seitz. Claude Monet. New York, [1960], pp. 38–39, fig. 49.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX–XX Centuries." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 3, New York, 1967, pp. 138–40, ill.

    Margaretta M. Salinger. "Windows Open to Nature." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (Summer 1968), unpaginated, ill.

    Douglas Cooper. "The Monets in the Metropolitan Museum." Metropolitan Museum Journal 3 (1970), pp. 297–301, 304–5, fig. 26.

    John Rewald. "The Impressionist Brush." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 32, no. 3 (1973/1974), pp. 42–43, no. 27, ill. (overall and color detail).

    Carl R. Baldwin The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Impressionist Epoch. [New York], 1974, p. 19.

    Steven Z. Levine Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Monet and His Critics. New York, 1976, pp. 177–222.

    Daniel Wildenstein. "1887–1898: Peintures." Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. 3, Paris, 1979, pp. 45–46, 52, 66 n. 1278, pp. 156–57, no. 1325, ill., dates it 1892, and identifies it as no. 4 in the 1895 exhibition at Durand-Ruel.

    Grace Seiberling Yale University. Monet's Series. New York, 1981, pp. 155–56, 160–62, 271, 365, no. 4, fig. 23.

    Robert L. Herbert. "The Decorative and the Natural in Monet's Cathedrals." Aspects of Monet: A Symposium on the Artist's Life and Times. New York, 1984, pp. 162, 167–71, 173–74.

    John House in Claude Monet: Painter of Light. Exh. cat., Auckland City Art Gallery. Auckland, New Zealand, 1985, pp. 23–24, 91, fig. 15, dates it 1892–94.

    Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 10, 144–45, 252, ill. (color, overall and detail).

    Monet: A Retrospective. New York, 1985, ill. p. 178.

    Daniel Wildenstein. "1899–1926: Peintures." Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné. 4, Lausanne, 1985, p. 44 n. 412.

    Gary Tinterow et al. "Modern Europe." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 8, New York, 1987, pp. 34–35, 37, colorpl. 19.

    Grace Seiberling. Monet in London. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Seattle, 1988, p. 12, fig. 7.

    Monet by Himself. London, 1989, ill. p. 214 (color).

    Georges Clemenceau. Claude Monet: Les Nympheas. Rpt. ed. [1st ed. Paris, 1928]. [Paris], 1990, pp. 73, 75, 77–80 [see Ref. Herbert 1984, pp. 175, 178 n. 28].

    Joachim Pissarro. Monet's Cathedral: Rouen 1892–1894. London, 1990, pp. 16, 30–31, 48–49, colorpl. 7.

    Gary Tinterow. "Miracle au Met." Connaissance des arts no. 472 (June 1991), p. 36.

    Chuji Ikegami. "Period of Impressionism." New History of World Art. 22, Tokyo, 1993, p. 219, fig. 134, dates it 1892.

    Rouen: Les "Cathédrales" de Monet. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen. Rouen, 1994, ill. p. 96 (color).

    Georges Clemenceau. Le Grand Pan. new ed. [1st ed., Paris, 1896]. [Paris], 1995, pp. 471, 473, 475–78, 499 n. 30.

    Daniel Wildenstein. Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism. 1, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, p. 293.

    Daniel Wildenstein. "Catalogue raisonné–Werkverzeichnis: Nos. 969–1595." Monet. 3, 2nd ed. Cologne, 1996, pp. 533, 539–40, no. 1325, ill. (color).

    Ziad Mahayni. "Atmosphäre als Gegendstand der Kunst: Monets Gemäldeserie der Kathedrale von Rouen." Neue Ästhetik: Das Atmosphärische und die Kunst. Munich, 2002, pp. 67–68, fig. 3 and ill. on cover (color).

    Joseph Baillio and Cora Michael in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, pp. 168, 204.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 144, 284–85, no. 133, ill. (color and black and white).

    Charles Stuckey in The Repeating Image: Multiples in French Painting from David to Matisse. Exh. cat., Walters Art Museum. Baltimore, 2007, p. 108.

    Eric M. Zafran in Claude Monet (1840–1926): A Tribute to Daniel Wildenstein and Katia Granoff. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 2007, pp. 117, 149 n. 263.

    Sylvie Patin in Claude Monet: 1840–1926. Exh. cat., Galeries nationales, Grand Palais. Paris, 2010, p. 264, ill. before p. 282 (color), dates it 1892; notes that although the Rouen Cathedral series is dated 1894, it was "painted during two campaigns in 1892 and 1893 (each time from February to mid-April) using three slightly different sites, and then completed in the studio at Giverny".



  • Notes

    Monet's series of the cathedral of Rouen was painted from the second-floor windows of several shops on the rue du Grand-Pont opposite the façade during the winter of 1892–93, and completed at Giverny.

    Monet worked on several canvases simultaneously, each one recording the appearance of the façade in the light of varying times of day and weather conditions. The Museum's picture depicts a time around noon or early afternoon on a clear day.

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