Painted in November 1954, Notre Dame de Paris captures a lively, yet tumultuous view of the famed cathedral overlooking the Seine. The bridge cuts a jagged line across the canvas surface, joining the buildings of Ile-de-la-Cit on the left and the Rive Gauche on the right. Picasso had recently separated with Franoise Gilot, and in September she returned to Paris with their children Claude and Paloma. That same month, he and his new love Jacqueline Roque moved in together at his Parisian studio at rue des Grands-Augustins. Dealing with the emotional changes in his personal life and living just steps away from this view, Picasso utilized the fractured viewpoints of Cubism and playful brushstrokes of a child to capture this recognizable, contemporary bustling city scene, filled with cars, boats, and tourists.
"The 'pure' landscapes Picasso has painted since World War II can almost be counted on the fingers of two hands. They are restricted to views which are familiar to him because he used to see them several times a day or had noticed them close at hand. He preferred views of this type, which he would 'portray' either as a single perspective or panoramically in a whole series of paintings, because for him, they had an unmistakable, individual and by no means general character. He was more interested in the specific physiognomy than in the typical qualities of landscape" (K. Gallwit, Picasso, The Heroic Years, New York, 1985, p. 52).
Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.