Le Pont de l'Europe, Gare Saint-Lazare
The third exhibition, 1887, is considered the first official Impressionist exhibition. Planning began in Caillebotte's home on the rue Miromesni. The steering committee was composed of Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, and Degas. For the location Caillebotte rented an apartment not far from the second exhibition's venue, and the committee scheduled the time for the exhibition one year after the 1876 exhibition: April 1 to April 30. The number of works displayed was 241, with 18 artists participating.
Not only do the paintings below complement one another and link to Caillebotte's other paintings they demonstrate the 19th century fascination with industrialism. At first artists celebrated the new forms: "The shapes arise!" wrote Walt Whitman, in the 1860s.
|Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets,
Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads,
Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks, girders, arches.
Society embraced the tenants of industrialism and ignored the downside of urban poverty and the dismal counter-measures of bureaucracy and regimentation. But the Impressionists quickly saw through it. Their sensuous approach to landscape through the medium of color seems to have no connection to the intellectual climate of the times. They were viewed as madmen or just ignored.
Caillebotte, a scion and beneficiary of industrialism (his wealth came from his grandfather's textile factory), seems to be examining both the bridge and, at the same time, industrialism itself. In the second painting of the bridge he is actually face to face with the monster. No surprise that he soon abandoned Paris and like Cézanne repaired to the county, not so much to paint but to raise orchards and to build and race sailboats.
|Le Pont de l'Europe,
1876. (49 in × 71 in)
Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva
Caillebotte displayed this image at the exhibition of 1877, alongside his Rue de Paris, temps de pluie and Claude Monet's Le Pont de l'Europe, Gare Saint-Lazare, which gives an alternate view of the bridge.
The man in the top hat may be Caillebotte himself, and the woman Caillebotte's companion, Anne-Marie Hagen. The other man, dressed in work clothes, is like the other worker in the later version, both faceless and peering over the bridge.
|Claude Monet, Le Pont de l'Europe, Gare Saint-Lazare 1877,81x64 Musee Marmottan, Paris|