Exhibitions: About Time: 700 Years of European Painting

Claude Monet: Houses of Parliament, Effects of Sunlight

Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926). Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, 1903. Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Grace Underwood Barton, 68.48.1

Intrigued by the challenge of capturing the play of water and light, Monet tested himself further by painting the transformative beauty of London's fog and smoke in several works executed along the banks of the Thames in three winter painting campaigns from 1899 to 1901. Monet stationed himself on the balcony of Saint Thomas' Hospital, across the river from his subject, switching from one canvas to another—nineteen in all—as changing weather and light conditions dictated.

Their neo-Gothic spires blunted by the mauve gloom of late afternoon, the Houses of Parliament emerge as a massive silhouette. Rays of pale sunshine break through the murk in the upper-right corner of the canvas and burst across the shimmering waters in overlapping strokes of pink, salmon, and yellow. The painter later reworked the canvas in his Giverny studio in 1903 in preparation for an exhibition the following year.