Matisse made several views of the Notre-Dame cathedral from his Quai Saint-Michel studio on Paris’s Left Bank in 1914. His friend Marcel Sembat, a French politician, viewed this work and one other from the series. He considered this version “the more beautiful of the two, the more ingenious, the one in which Matisse is more personal,” but added that “no one would understand [it] immediately” because of its abstract character. Matisse reworked features of this canvas before covering almost the entire surface in blue. He left early compositional elements visible beneath the paint, accentuating the temporal quality of building up an artwork.
Gallery label from 2022