TRAINS AND BRIDGES-2

Monet
Gare Saint Lazare, 1877
Caillebotte's Le Pont de l' Europe was accompanied in the Impressionist exhibition of 1877 by Monet's view of the same bridge, seen from the tracks Le Pont de l'Europe, 1877 , and seven other paintings of the Gare Saint Lazare, including interiors of the train shed.

Monet had been living Argenteuil for several years, but in the winter of 1876 to 1877 he rented a studio on the rue d'Edimbourg and began a group of paintings of the Gare Saint Lazare. His studio placed him near Caillebotte, Manet, and Degas, and their interest in urban subjects probably helped turn him temporarily from the suburbs to the city. Manet had already painted the tracks, and Caillebotte's Le Pont de l' Enrope was underway before Monet launched his series. Monet had regularly used the Gare Saint Lazare going to and from Argenteuil since 1872. He had painted the railway bridge at Argenteuil, and a few pictures of industrial sites along the Seine, so the city station was a logical extension of his interest in contemporary subjects.


Monet
Gare Saint Lazare
, 1877
In Gare Saint Lazare, Monet's view within the train shed is balanced. It is an unusual view with few precedents in the history of painting, but one that users of the station would have been familiar with. We are placed at the end of the tracks, looking along the axis of the rails towards the Pont de 1'Europe, whose gridwork is at the level of the locomotive's smokestack.

From the way the blue clouds of smoke pull upwards, we can see that the engine is either backing out of the station, or possibly just entering it. To the right, nearby, is a rail worker, and further back are the passengers on the quay. On the left is the car of an engineless train.

The potential movement of both trains is directly towards, or away from, the observer, with the result that neither seems to move. The sense of being held in a timeless moment is emphasized by the puffs of steam which come from the undercarriage of the engine. These puffs hide the train's wheels, making it float in an atmosphere of light, steam, and smoke.

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