Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sketching Rouen Cathedral - from my hotel bed!

Sketches of Rouen Cathedral
(left) nighttime on 01.10.09
(right) 8am on 02.10.09.
pencil and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Next stop on our French trip was Rouen. Here's my post about Rouen posted while we were travelling - 2nd October: Rouen and Normandy

One of the objectives of the trip for me was to be able to see the paintings by Monet of Rouen Cathedral in the Musée d'Orsay and then to be able to see the Cathedral in real life. (Much as we had done with Monet's paintings of the garden at Giverny and our visit to Giverny)

"Voila mon atelier" Claude Monet 1880
They have better looking construction hoardings in France
- spotted next to the cathedral

I was ecstatic to find that, as promised, the hotel that I'd booked (Hotel Le Cardinal at 1 Place de la Cathédrale) did indeed look out on the Cathédrale Notre Dame. However it was off to the side rather than looking out at the front. Which was probably a very good thing as the front was completely enveloped in polythene and scaffolding - obviously some restoration going on!

What was even better was that I had a balcony which overlooked the south aspect of the cathedral. I think I did mention I wanted to draw the cathedral! Check out the video from my hotel bedroom balcony - which, for the record, was on the third floor at the front of the hotel.

I also started - but didn't finish - a sketch of the interior of the Brasserie Paul where we had dinner. It's the oldest brasserie operating in Rouen and is right next to the hotel - but it had been a very long day!

We had previously walked down to the Place du Vieux Marché (Old Market Square) which is lined with restaurants - but we were on the trail of comfort food rather than haute cuisine! It did however constitute another part of our Jeanne d'Arc trail. Rouen Castle is where she was held and tried from 21 February to 23 May 1431 and the Place du Vieux Marché is the place where she was executed by being burnt at the stake after being found guilty of being a relapsed heretic. (This site records the relevant places)
In the centre of the Place du Vieux Marché is the modern church of Saint Joan of Arc. This is a large, modern structure which dominates the square. The form of the building represents the pyre on which Joan of Arc was burnt.
I was saving myself for late night sketching - of the cathedral from my hotel bed! I did two sketches - both of which involved nothing more strenuous than lying on my bed propped up by a pillow! I did one last thing at night and one about 8am the next morning - both of which you can see at the top of the post. It was actually very interesting to see how the form of the cathedral changed in the different light and how different parts were emphasised less or more.

A view of the west front painted by Monet - above the scaffolding!

At 10am we departed for our journey across Normandy to visit Mont St Michel - via a 2nd World War cemetary asscoiated with the Normandy landings in 1944 - of which more in the next post about our French trip.



  1. I love how you handled the overwhelming architecture of the cathedral!!! Both sketches are great. It is really nice when you are expecting a view and actually have one when you get there!!! We had that with the apartment we rented in Paris with the view of the Eiffel Tower. I could sit in bed and watch on the hour when the whole tower started to twinkle at night. (Definitely a great sight!)

  2. Wonderful sketches and description! Almost as good as being there!....


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