Exhibitions: European Paintings

Claude Monet: Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight

Intrigued by the challenge posed by the play of water and light, Monet tested himself by painting the transformative beauty of London’s fog and smoke in several works executed along the banks of the Thames during three winter painting campaigns from 1899 to 1901. Monet stationed himself on the balcony of Saint Thomas’s Hospital, across the river from his subject, substituting one canvas for another 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.