#ClaudeMonet’s “L'Aiguille de Cleopatre et Charing Cross Bridge” as shown at #London's #NationalGallery. .
In 1899, London’s #CharingCrossBridge was not the charismatic and picturesque structure it is today. Instead, it was a banal post-and-lintel artery ferrying trains across the Thames and into Charing Cross Station on the West Bank. However, French impressionist painter Claude #Monet (1840-1926) was less interested in the design of the bridge itself and instead concentrated on the colorful atmospheric effects the London fog and soot had on it, as he peered down on it from his fifth floor balcony in the Savoy Hotel. Monet loved all things British and began painting views from the Savoy in September of 1899. Methodically, he began with sunrise over the Waterloo Bridge to his left and progressed rightward toward Charing Cross Bridge with the afternoon sun. Later still he spent his sundown with the Parliament Building from a view at St. James’ Hospital a few hundred meters away. Nearly one hundred paintings feature these three views, including at least 41 paintings of Waterloo Bridge, 37 of Charing Cross Bridge and 19 of Parliament. Heavily affected by British atmospheric painters such as J.M.W. Turner and John Constable, each canvas depicts what the poet Octave Mirbeau described as, “Smoke and Fog; forms, architectural masses, perspectives, a whole deaf rumbling city in the fog… the Sun prisoner of the mists” (quoted in R. Gordon & A. Forge, p. 187). The present work is one of only two “Charing Cross Bridge” compositions which feature the recently-installed (1878) “L’Aiguille de Cleopatra” (Cleopatra’s Needle) a 3500 year old obelisk sent as a gift from the people of Egypt to the British for their victory over Napoleon 63 years earlier. The crispness of the needle in the foreground contrasts with the haze of the bridge and bifurcates the structures in the background making this one of the most dynamic of the series. .
(Text by Reed V Horth)
Photo borrowed from @stephenjonmacdonald
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