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Matisse painted numerous views of Notre-Dame, which he could see from his studio window in Paris. The cathedral glows in the sunlight, and a glancing shadow indicates that it is midday. By contrast, the river beneath is dark and richly coloured. A plume of smoke from the riverboats rises in front of the cathedral, linking the industrial and spiritual aspects of the city. This atmospheric detail echoes Impressionism. However, the painting's touches of strong, sometimes seemingly arbitrary colour, anticipate Matisse's later Fauvist work.

August 2004