19th Century Visual Art
For Europe, the 19th century was the time of active social transformations and the rapid development of industry. An important innovation in art was the formation of aestheticism, poetic synthesis of artistic thinking with its increased attention to the form. Lines, texture and color became the expressions of the artists’ individuality, their unique feelings and thoughts. Claude Monet was a 19th century artist who created the famous series of works “Rouen Cathedral Facade” introducing the temple to the history of modern impressionistic art. One of the thirty-one paintings in these series, called “Rouen Cathedral, Bright Sunshine” (Kumskova, 2013), portrays not the whole cathedral, but only its part, the tower of St. Martin and the tower of Alban. This fragment serves as a kind of portal of the Gothic cathedral and shows the splendor of the cathedral.
Monet worked in the apartment opposite to the cathedral, which he on purpose transformed into the workshop. His windows had a beautiful view of the cathedral, which the artist could enjoy while working at the same time (“Rouen Cathedral,” n.d.). He was very fascinated by the play of light on the stone, which varied depending on the time of the day, the weather and the position of the sun in the sky. The described artwork was painted in full sunshine. Monet conveyed the sunrays play and captured every detail of golden-amber facades at the peak of the midday light and the multi-faceted glow of stained glass windows (“Rouen Cathedral paintings by Claude Monet,” n.d.). The writer Georges Clemenceau said that Monet makes even the stones come to life (Kumskova, 2013). Other artists also tried to paint the same image of the cathedral, but Monet added to it a play of color, the atmosphere, and his own feelings at the time he created his masterpiece. He completely transformed the cathedral in his painting and turned into the stage for a beautiful light show.
Claude Monet finished his “Rouen Cathedral, Bright Sunshine” in 1894 (“Realism to impressionism,” n.d.). The works of art are always influenced by contemporary events and changes in the society, and the 19th century was rich on such changes. The 19th century began a new era in European art and culture, heavily influenced by two French revolutions: of 1789-1799 and of 1848. It was time of the emergence of new cultural movements, such as Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism, Impressionism, Symbolism and others (“Realism to impressionism,” n.d.).The Impressionists, and Claude Monet as one of them, offered a new vision of the changing world and new principles of painting. They perceived the surrounding reality as an infinite change in impressions.
Claude Monet with his “Rouen Cathedral Facade” made a great contribution to the art history and Impressionism in particular. He developed new techniques (“Monet,” 2014) that enabled to convey the freshness and immediacy in the image of everyday life of the modern city, its landscapes, appearance, and entertainment of its inhabitants. In his landscapes, he managed to create a sense of sparkling sunlight, and to convey the richness of natural colors together with the movement of the air (Kumskova, 2013). Furthermore, the artworks by Claude Monet have invaluable importance in the contemporary world as well. His paintings demonstrate the greatest achievements of the artist. A special technique of painting in a series of sketches or making any artwork with subtle changes from one piece to another, that he developed, became the main element of contemporary art for many artists. Despite the fact that some critics did not understand his masterpieces at that time, many artists then were influenced by him and changed their vision of painting.
In conclusion, “Rouen Cathedral Facade” is the most interesting and beautiful paintings of the famous artist Claude Monet that became a real masterpiece well-known all over the world. He immortalized the appearance of Rouen Cathedral, which became a symbol of France. Monet managed to turn a huge mass of stone into a pure vibration of light, inspiring the future generations of artists and influencing the very understanding of art.