On The Europe Bridge

This paper will detail my thoughts about “On The Europe Bridge”, a painting by Gustave Caillebotte, which is on display at The Kimbell Art Museum, in Fort Worth, Texas. I will begin by stating the facts about the painting and the artist. Second, I will try to describe the painting itself, state my opinion, and give my interpretation of it. Last I will discuss what the artist might have been trying to convey to his audience, the purpose of this work. The artistic medium used in “On The Europe Bridge” is oil on canvas and its dimensions are 41-1/2 x 51-1/8 inches.

The artistic style of “On The Europe Bridge” is considered impressionism. In the lower right corner of the painting G. Caillebotte is stamped in blue. The use of color is very limited, since the artist chose to use a restricted palette of blues and grays. The artist, Gustave Caillebotte, is French and was born August 19, 1848, in Paris. Caillebotte was a close friend of other impressionist painters, and he helped to fund their first public exhibition in 1874. He exhibited his work with theirs in 1876.

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Caillebotte was independently wealthy and was able to acquire a large and important collection of impressionist works which he later bequeathed to France. “On The Europe Bridge” shows a scene from the modern life of Paris. As I look at “On The Europe Bridge” I see what appears to be a train station in the background, I don’t actually see a train but I do see what appears to be smoke from a train’s smokestack. There is distortion in the background, giving the audience the impression of depth and distance.

The overall structure of this painting is one that is well balanced, bringing out the bridge itself as well as the people crossing the bridge. I see a scene that is very clear and shows a view of three gentlemen crossing the bridge. These gentlemen are dressed well with overcoats and top hats from the late 1800’s and give me the feeling they are businessmen crossing this bridge, maybe going to work or possibly going home from work. The main focus is on a gentleman who is looking out over the landscape.

This gentleman seems to be admiring the view from the bridge and is off set from the center of the painting a little to the left. This gives me the sense of how big the bridge really is. Directly in the center of the painting are steel girders and a large railing. On these girders I see large rivets where they cross, making the structure seem very stable. From the painting I get the impression that the bridge was newly constructed and the men in the painting were admiring the technological advances in age where this type of construction was new.

The technique of framing is used here, the painting crops off half of the second gentleman who is walking off the painting toward the left side, as if he is in a hurry, this gives the sensation of movement. I especially like what the artist has done here; I actually get the feeling that there is movement here. The third gentleman is really in the background, behind the other gentlemen; he is standing at the side of the bridge and is looking down at what is directly below the bridge, I believe it may be a rail yard since there is a train station in the background.

These men seem very amazed at the grandeur and beauty of the city and landscape below and may be interested in the complexity of the construction of this bridge. The colors used are darker colors, grays and blues. The gray color used on the bridge brings out the metal look and sturdiness. I get the feeling it is cold outside from the clothing being worn as well as the lighter blues and whites used in the background, these colors used in the landscape give me the impression it is winter. I can almost make out what appears to be ice on some trees.

The bridge seems to be elevated about a hundred feet or so from the ground at the point where this image is being presented. Overall this painting was very moving to me, I almost felt like I was there experiencing the new advancements in what was becoming a modern age. The purpose of this painting may have been to give an example of the technological advances of the time and of their impact on the people of Paris and the world. (On The Europe Bridge) What gives me this impression is this beautiful steel bridge, and the train station in the background.

The train station, I believe, represents the industrial age that Paris and Europe were experiencing at the time. Caillebotte shows the audience modern city life with some of the dramatic changes that were affecting the lives of its people. “On The Europe Bridge”, I believe, depicts contemporary life during a technologically advancing age. I seem to share the feeling of amazement with the people in this painting. This painting must have been a one that caught the eye of the people during this age. Maybe it sparked a little imagination in the people of this age and possibly gave them an image of what things may be like in the future.