From a distance of ten feet or so, Monet's brushstrokes blend to yield a convincing view of the Seine and the pleasure boats that drew tourists to Argenteuil. Up close, however, each dab of paint is distinct, and the scene dissolves into a mosaic of paint—brilliant, unblended tones of blue, red, green, yellow. In the water, quick, fluid skips of the brush mimic the lapping surface. In the trees, thicker paint is applied with denser, stubbier strokes. The figure in the sailboat is only a ghostly wash of dusty blue, the women rowing nearby are indicated by mere shorthand.

In the early years of impressionism, Monet, Renoir, and others strove to capture the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere on the landscape and to transcribe directly and quickly their sensory experience of it. Monet advised the American artist Lilla Cabot Perry, "When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naïve impression of the scene before you."


  • Title: The Bridge at Argenteuil
  • Creator: Claude Monet
  • Date Created: 1874
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 60 x 79.7 cm (23 5/8 x 31 3/8 in.) framed: 78.1 x 97.8 x 4.7 cm (30 3/4 x 38 1/2 x 1 7/8 in.)
  • Provenance: (Durand-Ruel, Paris); sold 1890 to Henri Vever [1854-1942], Paris; (his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1-2 February 1897, no. 78); purchased by (Georges Petit) for Marie-Albert, vicomte de Curel [1827-1908], Paris;[1] by descent in his family; (de Curel sale, Palais Galliera, Paris, 21 June 1961, lot C);[2] purchased by (Hector Brame, Paris) for Mr. Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia; gift 1983 to NGA. [1] See reports of the Vever sale published in the _Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot_ no. 35-36, 4-5 February 1897 and the _Chroniques des Arts et de la Curiosité_, as well as the annotated sale catalogue, copies in NGA curatorial files. The NGA picture was not included in the 25 November 1918 Curel estate sale held at the Galerie Georges Petit (originally scheduled for 3 May 1918). The vicomte de Curel, for whom the painting was purchased, has been identified by François Auffret, Président of La Société des Amis de Jongkind in Paris (founded 1970), with confirmation from the collector's descendants. With M. Auffret's kind permission, his research was shared with the NGA by Dr. Diana Kostyrko (see her e-mails from October through December 2008 in NGA curatorial files). [2] According to press coverage of the 1961 sale, the picture had been in the collection of Barbara Church, an American collector who lived in Ville-d'Avray and had died the preceding year. However, the sale in which the NGA painting figured actually consisted of six pictures from the de Curel collection; the Barbara Church sale, held the same day at the Palais Galliera, was one of several estate sales of the Church collection held in 1961.
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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