Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame

Between 1910 and 1920, Utrillo abandoned simple motifs in favour of more ambitious compositions. Here he takes over from Claude Monet (1941-1926) who had produced a series of paintings of the facade of Rouen Cathedral, a series that was exhibited in 1895 at the gallery of Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). Similarly Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and other contemporaries of Utrillo like Albert Marquet (1884-1959) and Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), took an interest in this theme.
The facade of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, built in the 13th century on the Île de la Cité, viewed from the front, occupies the whole canvas. Only a few houses in the Rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame are visible on the left. Utrillo here is interested in the tiered arrangement of forms and not in the sculpted decoration or the play of light. The three doorways are surmounted by a balustrade, which in turn is surmounted by windows framing the large rose window in the centre. Finally between the two towers we can discern the spire built in 1860 to the design of architect Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879).
The absence of any play of light removes all depth from this view and accentuates the mass of the facade, enlivened only by the red of the central doorway. The painting was never completed.

Provenance: L. Libaude; Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter