Claude Monet, The Highway Bridge under repair, 1872
The featured special exhibition, Monet: A Bridge to Modernity is currently open at the National Gallery. It’s a focused exhibition of 12 Monet paintings,10 of which were painted over a few short years in the 1870’s, each featuring a bridge over the Seine in Argenteuil, now a suburb of Paris.
As much as “bridging to modernism”, I find it shows a working artist exploring a motif in his new locale. As a painter, I’m interested in the feel of plein-air and studio work. Monet undoubtedly started all of these works plein-air and then perhaps worked on them afterwords. Some breath of the urgency to complete on site. Others feel calmer, unhurried and more studio-finished. It’s an engaging slice of the artist working, just on the cusp of Impressionism.
It’s nice that the exhibition is part of the general gallery admission charge and perhaps the gallery could make a bit more of this fact – some folk seemed surprised that there was not an additional fee. That said, an exhibition built around 12 paintings is going to be quite compact, even with video and period photographs adding context.
Claude Monet, Pont d’Argenteuil, circa 1874
Whilst you’re at the gallery, amble over to the International Galleries on the second floor for four more Monets in the permanent collection – room C213!