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The invention of the series developed by Monet emerged as early as his 1877 exhibition:

‘Magnifi cent station interiors, in which you hear the roar of rushing trains, the billowing steam under the vast hangars. It is in such modern settings that painting is found today.’ These new architectures, glorifi ed by Zola, were symbolic of modernity itself. In the series painted by Monet, Rouen cathedral emerges as a counterpoint diametrically opposed to the motif of the station – while the latter could be construed as a cathedral of modernity, the Rouen building evokes the history of national monuments and the place of memory. An idea hailed by Clemenceau in his article The Revolutions of Cathedrals. At the time when Renan was drafting his What is a nation? the Monet series can be seen as a reminder of the place of the Norman cathedral in the national consciousness.

Monet’s series inspired many fellow-artists to direct competition. Sisley, whose work is dominated by fi elds and meadows, devoted himself only occasionally to village scenes or architectural monuments – all the more exceptional, then, his series depicting the church of Notre-Dame in Moret-sur-Loing, which reveals very clear elements of imitation. For the first time, the two series will be brought face to face, showing the way in which Impressionist painters toyed with the ever-changing play of light on a monument, hour by hour, season by season, as seen from a variety of angles.

The New Bridge
Johan Jongkind
The New Bridge

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