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“Houses of Parliament, London” by Claude Monet (Art Institute of Chicago)

Claude Monet - Houses of Parliament, London

“Houses of Parliament, London” by Claude Monet 

The Houses of Parliament by Claude Monet is one in a series of paintings of the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament. Created during the early 1900s while Monet was staying in London. All of the paintings in the “Houses of Parliament” series share the same viewpoint, from Monet’s terrace at St Thomas’ Hospital overlooking the Thames. All the paintings are about the same sized canvas, but they depict different times of the day and very different weather and light conditions.

This painting’s viewpoint was close to that of J. M. W. Turner’s paintings, which Monet admired, of the fire that had destroyed much of the old Parliament complex in 1834. Also, James McNeill Whistler’s artworks of the Thames also inspired Monet.

By the time of the Houses of Parliament series, Monet had ceased his earlier practice of entirely completing a painting on the spot in front of the subject. Monet continued refining the images back at his home base in France and sometimes used photographs to help in his task. Some purist criticised this new approach. Monet replied in strong terms that the means of creating his work was his own business and it was up to the viewer to judge the final result.

Monet produced nearly a hundred views of the Thames River in London. He painted Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Bridge from his room in the Savoy Hotel and the Houses of Parliament from Saint Thomas’s Hospital. The artist continued to refine the paintings and wrote to his dealer Durand-Ruel:

“I cannot send you a single canvas of London …
It is indispensable to have them all before me and to tell the truth,
not one is definitely finished. I develop them all together.”
– Oscar-Claude Monet

Monet Series

Monet’s first series exhibited as such was of Haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day. Fifteen of the paintings were exhibited in 1891. In the next year, he produced what is probably his best-known series, twenty-six views of Rouen Cathedral. In these paintings, Monet broke with tradition by cropping the subject so that only a portion of the façade is seen on the canvas. The pictures do not focus on the famous building, but on the play of light and shade across its surface as it transformed the Cathedral façade.

Monet Series include:

  • Haystacks
  • Rouen Cathedral
  • Poplars
  • Mornings on the Seine
  • Water Lilies
  • Venice
  • The Houses of Parliament, London,
  • Charing Cross Bridge, London
  • Waterloo Bridge, London
  • Views of Westminster Bridge, London

Monet had a passion for creating images of the passing of time as seen in the movement of light over the same forms.

Oscar-Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his painting Impression, “soleil levant” or “Impression, Sunrise”, which was exhibited in 1874. Monet adopted a method of painting in which he painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. Monet is known for having produced a series of paintings all versions of the same subject and perspective. Examples include his series of the “Valley of the Creuse” series and his famous series of “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” paintings.

From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where at his home, he developed a garden landscape which included the lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings, with the water lilies as the main feature. This series occupied him for the last 20 years of his life.

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Houses of Parliament, London

  • Title:                Untitled, dubbed Houses of Parliament, London
  • Français:         Sans titre, surnommée Le Parlement de Londres
  • Artist:              Claude Monet
  • Year:                1901
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:    81 × 92 cm (31.8 × 36.2 in)
  • Museum:        Art Institute of Chicago

Claude Monet

~~~

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand,
as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

– Claude Monet

~~~


Photo Credit: 1) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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