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'Houses of Parliament'

A superlative example of the Impressionist style developed by Claude Monet, depicting the world in a way that no camera ever could.

TravelCurious Tip

Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings of the Seine — they make a fascinating comparison to Monet’s series, both in style and content

Claude Monet, the famous French Impressionist artist, painted a series of oil paintings of the Houses of Parliament in London over the course of several stays between 1899 and 1901. All the paintings in the series share the same viewpoint overlooking the Thames, but are painted at different times of day and with different weather. The contrasts between them are wonderful.


Although the main residence in his life was in Giverny, Monet and his family had actually lived in England briefly when they sought refuge during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871). Monet returned again in the late eighties and stayed with his two artist friends James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Both were famous artists in their right and, although they were expatriate Americans, they acted as his guide to the city. Whistler’s fixation on the Thames clearly had an effect on his friend Monet.


Monet always tried to go to London during the winter, when the city sky would be thick with fog and the smoke of coal fires. "Without fog," Monet said, "London would not be a beautiful city. It is the fog that gives it its magnificent breadth.” In this series the ghostly outline of the Parliament buildings emerges from the fog, and its great stone bulk seems strangely weightless. Thousands of coloured patches knit together to give an impression of the density of the air, as sky and river blend seamlessly.


Paintings from this series by Monet are scattered all over the world, but you can see one here in Paris at the Musée d’Orsay. Whether or not you have seen the scene in the flesh, this depiction is triumphant.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
The Louvre
The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. Inside you’ll find the jewels of every civilisation since prehistory.
Musee d'Orsay
One of the world's definitive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, installed in the former Orsay train station.
'Starry Night Over the Rhone'
This painting is one of the highlights from the Musée d'Orsay’s Van Gogh collection.
‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’
This Renoir work is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces, depicting romantic bourgeois Paris in the 1870s.
'Card Players'
This peaceful Cézanne painting is one of the Post-Impressionist’s most enduring works.
Les Berges River Path
A pedestrianised recreation pathway along the river's edge

Related Tours

Musée d'Orsay: The World's Finest Collection of Impressionist Art
The Louvre may be the most visited museum in Paris, however the Orsay is probably the most enjoyable. Housed in the Gare d’Orsay, and constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair, the Orsay Museum is one of Paris’ most beloved museums, devoted to a huge breadth of art from between 1848 to 1914. The museum also showcases France’s most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art - indeed the golden age of art in Paris.

  • Escape the bustle and visit one of Paris' most enjoyable and roomy museums.
  • Explore the most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art in France.
  • Examine key works by Monet and Gaugin with your own expert guide.
During the tour your expert city guide will help you navigate this huge collection to find the absolute best, world-famous as well as lesser known pieces. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, discovering how these artists influenced the next generation. You will explore the most iconic artworks in the world, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’, Renoir’s ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’, and Cézanne’s 'Card players', and learn from your knowledgeable guide, about the stories behind these artworks and their creators along the way. 
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