Through his window at the Savoy Hotel, Claude watches Waterloo and Charing Cross bridges in the pink fog of the morning. On one of the first evenings he sees the sunset above the neo-Gothic buildings of the Houses of Parliament and the river. Like Constable, he will be an extraordinary interpreter of the English sky.
The best view is from the garden of St. Thomas's Hospital. The artist is already famous. He easily gets the authorization to work every day in this place. Every afternoon at 4:00, he leaves the hotel to retrieve or resettle his easels at the hospital.
The light changes at every moment with the clouds pushed by the wind and the instability of the fog. As for the poplars in 1892, Claude works on several paintings in parallel, finding and catching evening after evening the same tiny ephemeral details of the sunset light. His control is total and even his method for applying his brush varies depending on the desired effect.
This project is the most amazing in the history of painting. By considering the three motifs altogether (the two bridges and the Parliament), Claude maintains a hundred paintings during this 1900 stay. He leaves London before spring when the sun is now higher and the light has changed. He returns with his paintings in the following year but snow and cold prevent a new progress.
Claude finishes his paintings at Giverny and scrupulously notes the year of completion beside his signature. He considers the whole as inseparable until the 1904 exhibition by Durand-Ruel that gets a considerable success, anticipating his famous uncompromising attitude before the first exhibition of his Water Lilies series.
The subgroup of the Parliament from St. Thomas's consists of 19 oil paintings in a unique format 81 x 93 cm. One of them is estimated $ 35M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 11, lot 24A.
Dated 1902, this painting is one of the first that was completed by the artist, perhaps because the very expressive sky is particularly exciting. Despite the clouds, the sun plays behind the high tower and the same pink shades apply to the edges of the clouds and to the reflections in the river.
The image is shared by Wikimedia: