National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

The Impressionists at Argenteuil


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Introduction | Impressionism | Group Exhibitions | The Paris Suburbs | Impressions of Nature
Impressionist Techniques | Landscapes of Modernity | Leisure | Group Dynamics

Landscapes of Modernity
  In addition to representing the natural landscape, the impressionists were eager to explore the ways in which industrial and technological developments were changing the world around them. Argenteuil, like many suburban towns near Paris, underwent rapid transformation in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1863 a new iron railroad bridge was built over the Seine, bringing trains directly into town; previously they only reached the opposite bank of the river. Monet painted several views of this monumental bridge, situated boldly within the natural environment, its smooth columns gleaming in the sun. Argenteuil's highway bridge, dating back to 1830, also attracted the artist's attention. Caillebotte, too, was fascinated by the modern structures that dotted the landscape around Argenteuil. With unabashed candor he rendered both bridges as well as the huge factory complex of the local distillery along the Seine, its geometric forms dramatically reflected in the water below. Both artists fashioned harmonious relationships out of the new and the old: industrial chimneys appear next to church spires, steamboats beside sailing vessels, massive bridges springing over the iridescent surface of the river.

Introduction | Impressionism | Group Exhibitions | The Paris Suburbs | Impressions of Nature
Impressionist Techniques | Landscapes of Modernity | Leisure | Group Dynamics