Cathedral interior

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Le Cateau
Accession Number ART93099
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 94 x 82 cm x 8.5 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Maker Streeton, Arthur
Place made France
Date made c. 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


This is a scene of a ruined cathedral interior, most probably in the town of Le Cateau. 'Cathedral Interior' is a sombre yet tranquil scene. Streeton had witnessed the aftermath of the destruction of many French towns with their beautiful, historic buildings having been torn apart, leaving a feeling of desolation and despair. The painting depicts an interior view of a wrecked cathedral from the back of the building looking towards the nave. The domes of the cathedral are damaged, gaping holes, and piles of wreckage are scattered throughout the interior with the only remnants of ornament being the crucifix and candlesticks at the altar. Again Streeton revels in the dappled light that seeps into the cathedral through the ruined domes and stained glass windows down the columns and reflecting off the gilt ornaments. This light diffuses what should be a scene of despair and loss of faith, a scene to which Streeton also adds a white dove flying above the altar. The painting was almost certainly completed after the armistice on 11 November 1918 which would have influenced the sense of optimism Streeton imbues in the painting by the addition of the dove as a symbol of peace.