In 1869, the Dutch artist Johann Jongkind (1818 – 1891) shared with the world what he saw when he looked at the river Seine. View of Rouen, in a larger size, appears on The Famous Artists. Both the city and the port have changed greatly since then.
Jongkind was known for experimenting with how sunlight reflected on the ground below and how it traveled across the landscape.
In this painting, tall sailing ships traverse the waterway and the skyline is dominated by what was probably the Rouen Cathedral.
This postcard-like collage of photos from Rouen is from Wikipedia and shows a modern and vibrant city. Today it’s home to over 110,000 residents known as Rouennais.
Rouen is the historic capital city of Normandy and was founded in 1150. It became a major center of commerce and trade fairly quickly. Rouen and much of Normandy has flown the flag of several countries and monarchies since its founding. It’s colorful history includes an invasion by Vikings, several castles, the trial and execution of Joan of Arc, a 16th century astronomical clock, soft-paste porcelain and as the birthplace of a boy named Edward who would grow up to become King Edward IV of England.
The artist Claude Monet is most often associated with Rouen and its cathedral.
Jongkind’s painting most likely predates Monet’s work and focuses more on the Seine River and the boats which traversed her waterways than Monet’s work which features the cathedral.
Another artist, Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) , painted this wonderful street scene of Rouen in 1898 – Rue de l’Épicerie.
I love how the painting shows both the cobble-stoned street and the red posters and advertisements attached to one of the buildings.
Today, Rouen is home to the third largest port in France and has continued to be a thriving commercial and industrial center. Many of the historic buildings remain despite significant damage caused by a fire during World War II. Nothing, other than the roads themselves, remain of the Rouen-Les-Essarts track which was once home to the French Grand Prix. Rouen is also featured in several computer games including Call of Duty 3 and Grand Prix Legends.
Filed under: Then & Now