Denis began creating religious art in 1894, the year this painting was completed. A priory, as described in the title, is a religious building where monks and nuns live under the leadership of a prior.
This painting depicts the enclosed backyard gardens of a former priory in Saint-Germain-en-Laye that Maurice Denis purchased in 1914. He transformed it into a home for his large family and lived there for the last thirty years of his life. The woman in the lower left is hanging linens to dry, so that—according to custom—they will be whitened or bleached by moonlight. The moon casts an intense yellow light over the entire scene, making the buildings glow with mysterious color.
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