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“Waterloo Bridge” by Claude Monet

"Waterloo Bridge" by Claude Monet

“Waterloo Bridge” by Claude Monet 

Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet is one in a series of paintings of the famous bridge in London. All of the pictures in the “Waterloo Bridge” series share the same viewpoint overlooking the Thames. The paintings depict different times of the day and very different weather and light conditions. From 1899 through 1901, Monet set up his paints in the Savoy hotel and on the river’s north bank and painted the bridge over 40 times. He depicted the “Waterloo Bridge” more than either the “Houses of Parliament” or the “Charing Cross Bridge,” from his two other London series.

By the time of the Waterloo Bridge series, Monet had ceased his earlier practice of entirely completing a painting on the spot in front of the subject. Monet continued refining the images back at his home base in France and sometimes used photographs to help in his task. Some purists criticized this new approach. Monet replied in strong terms that the means of creating his work was his own business, and it was up to the viewer to judge the final result.

Monet produced nearly a hundred views of the Thames River in London. He painted Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Bridge from his room in the Savoy Hotel and the Houses of Parliament from Saint Thomas’s Hospital. The artist continued to refine the paintings and wrote to his dealer Durand-Ruel:

“I cannot send you a single canvas of London …
It is indispensable to have them all before me and to tell the truth; not one is definitely finished. I develop them all together.”
– Oscar-Claude Monet

Monet continued to work on all of his London paintings back in his studio in Giverny. He refused to send any of them to his dealer until he was satisfied with them as an ensemble.

Monet Series

Monet’s first series exhibited as such was of Haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day. Fifteen of the paintings were exhibited in 1891. In the next year, he produced what is probably his best-known series, twenty-six views of Rouen Cathedral. In these paintings, Monet broke with tradition by cropping the subject so that only a portion of the façade is seen on the canvas. The pictures do not focus on the famous building, but on the play of light and shade across its surface as it transformed the Cathedral façade.

Monet had a passion for creating images of the passing of time, as seen in the movement of light over the same forms. Monet’s many series include the following subjects:

  • Haystacks
  • Rouen Cathedral
  • Poplars
  • Mornings on the Seine
  • Water Lilies
  • Venice
  • The Houses of Parliament, London,
  • Charing Cross Bridge, London
  • Waterloo Bridge, London
  • Westminster Bridge, London

Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge crosses the River Thames in London. Its name commemorates the victory of the British at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Positioned at a strategic bend in the river, it provides the best ground-level views of Westminster and the London Eye to the west, and the City of London and Canary Wharf to the east.

In the 1930s London County Council decided to demolish the bridge in this painting and replace it with a new structure. This painting shows the first bridge on the site, which opened in 1817. The granite bridge had nine arches, separated by double Doric stone columns.

Oscar-Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting, and the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his painting Impression, “Soleil Levant” or “Impression, Sunrise,” which was exhibited in 1874. Monet adopted a method of painting in which he painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. Monet is known for having produced a series of paintings, all versions of the same subject and perspective. Examples include his series of the “Valley of the Creuse” series and his famous series of “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” paintings.

From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where at his home, he developed a garden landscape that included the lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings, with the water lilies as the main feature. This series occupied him for the last 20 years of his life.

Waterloo Bridge

  • Title:               Waterloo Bridge
  • Artist:              Claude Monet
  • Year:                1902
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Museum:         Kunsthalle Hamburg

Claude Monet

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“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand,
as if it were necessary to understand when it is simply necessary to love.”

– Claude Monet


Photo Credit: 1) Claude Monet [Public domain]