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General View of Rouen from Mont-aux-Malades

Paul Huet

(1803 - 1869) | 887.3

Date : 1831 | Medium : Oil on canvas

From 1817 onwards, Paul Huet visited Rouen and its surrounding area on several occasions. In the last months of 1829, he painted a panoramic view of the city and the Château d’Arques over thirteen metres long for the Diorama Montesquieu, one of the attractions of the time. However, the entrepreneur went bankrupt; the picture was seized by the creditors and then destroyed in the fire at the Théâtre de la Gaîté. View of Rouen bears the memory of this large work, now lost. Using the sketches and studies he had made to produce his commission, the artist executed this large painting in his studio, exhibiting it at the Salon of 1833. The city, depicted from the north-east from a site called the Mont-aux-Malades, is only visible through the bell towers of its churches, and lies in shadow.

The influence of Constable's English landscapes, discovered at the 1824 Salon, is highly evident here. The immense sky that takes up half the composition is full of threatening clouds, which cast large shadows onto the earth, broken up with patches of light, giving an intensely lyrical quality to the whole scene. The painter's simultaneously passionate and realistic vision of extreme manifestations of nature, his sense of drama and his vigorous style may have been influenced by his close friend and protégé Eugène Delacroix.

This landscape, a resounding success at the 1833 Salon, is considered one of the most important in the Romantic school, if not its crowning glory.