Monet's 1874 canvas The Bridge At Argenteuil is just one of seven impressionistic reproductions of the Argenteuil Bridge that the artist painted that year, yet it has remained the dominant view of the scene that has permeated through art history. Exhibited at the seminal first Impressionist exhibition of 1874 in which the small group of like-minded artists displayed their work independent to the hostile circles of the Beaux-Arts that would not accept their innovative style. Influenced by the shared independent exhibitions of Courbet and Manet before them, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Cézanne and Bazille decided to exhibit their works together, culminating in a show that would lay the foundations for Modern Art.
The bridge, circumvented by a railway which ran along the Seine and towards the village of Argenteuil where Monet was living, cuts a diagonal swath across the canvas separating solid mass and water. Allowing Monet to practice his skill in capturing the impressions of light on varying surfaces, the sailing boats, roofs, masts, and the riverbank, all provide complementary and contrasting colors with which to highlight the shimmering light of the day.
Another vital reason for wishing to avoid the mass exhibitions of the French salons was that the audience would not be able to get close to the works, often jumbled together without any hint of the curatorial minimalism galleries prefer today. The Bridge At Argenteuil benefits from an intimate view. When approaching the canvas the conglomeration of Monet's brushwork builds a lifelike reproduction of the popular spot, yet coming closer to the work one notices every single distinct stroke of the brush, forming a ghostly mosaic of color elements. This phenomenal work of artistic vision captures the firm and solid structure of an ephemeral moment, leaving the eye of the viewer to complete the impression.
Monet’s Impressionistic take on this landscape is stunning, as well as his bright color palette. There are three boats depicted side by side on the forefront, in tonalities of white, yellow, green and light brown. The water reflects the sailboats, as well as the blue and white of the sky. The river seen in the background is darker, as it mirrors the tall trees in the distance. The bridge and other constructions are also seen on the still waters.
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