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Rainy day in Paris. The Notre Dame Cathedral

Albert Marquet • Painting, 1910, 81×66 cm
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About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Urban landscape
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1910
Size: 81×66 cm
Artwork in selections: 10 selections

Description of the artwork «Rainy day in Paris. The Notre Dame Cathedral»

The Rainy Day in Paris is a perfect subject for Albert Marquet. His Paris is grey. But this greyness is soft, calm, alluring, in no way doomed or hopeless. The Seine embankment, graceful bridge arches, Notre Dame de Paris are Marquet’s favourite objects. The artist rented an apartment on the fifth floor and often painted by the window, therefore many of his cityscapes are viewed from above.  In this case, it is not just from above, but with a slope, a kind of a slide for the eyes: the gaze immediately slides along the pavement into the depths of the canvas.

In the foreground are the embankment, the Parisians walking on the wet sidewalk, the corner of a house. But the semantic centre of the composition is the Notre Dame Cathedral rising in the background. The bright, almost transparent street rests against the squat dark silhouette of Notre Dame de Paris, and the gaze seems to fall into it. Confused, it looks for a way out for a few moments, then hastily returns to the surface, to the foreground and perceives the picture again, in more detail.
We see the square in front of the cathedral surrounded by buildings, we see pedestrians, a carriage passing by in the distance, a crane. At the corner of the building in the foreground, there is a man walking against the wind blowing him towards the Small Bridge. Thus, the viewer’s gaze simultaneously perceives the whole picture and at the same time moves within it, which creates a special volumetric perception.

In the city landscapes of Marquet, aloofness and subtle lyricism are surprisingly combined. Marquet is not an Impressionist. He painted a rainy day in Paris, and not his impressions of it, but the feelings that the day and the city evoked in him and in us.

After several exhibitions, at which his landscapes were presented, critics started talking about such a phenomenon as Marquet’s Paris. His images of the French capital were compared with the works by the Impressionists and Maurice Utrillo, and they said that they were the only painters to show Paris so soulfully and lyrically.

Written by Aliona Esaulova 
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