Claude Monet stayed in London several times between 1899 and 1905. Readopting the principle of the series—that is, depicting the same subject at various times of day and in different light—he began work on Les Meules (Haystacks) in 1893 and then experimented again with the façade of Rouen Cathedral. He then produced six pictures inspired by the view onto the Thames from his window at the Savoy Hotel. This is one of them.
Through the thick London fog, we can see Charing Cross railway bridge in the foreground, where a plume of smoke indicates the passage of a train. In the background, the almost ghostly outline of the Houses of Parliament emerges from the mist. The study of light and atmospheric variations increasingly asserts itself as the guiding principle in Monet’s work in the early 20th century. In London, he focused particularly on depicting fog and the way the effects of sunlight shine through it. Here, he reflects them with an exceptionally rich palette, his brushstrokes offering up a multitude of shades, some of them very bold.
This London series was exhibited at Durand-Ruel's gallery in Paris in 1904 and was an immediate success with the critics.