This map of the Seine shows a large loop in the river where so many of the Impressionists lived, worked, and played. You may wish to refer to this map from time to time as our journey commences.
La Grenouillère by Pierre-Auguste RenoirIn the summer of 1869 Monet and Renoir painted side by side in the open air at La Grenouillère (the frog pond). At that time it was a very colourful place, the two friends were drawn to this lively riverbank spot alongside the Seine by its reputation.
La Grenouillère by Pierre-Auguste RenoirTogether they developed a new revolutionary style of painting - the five canvasses shown here were painted in situ during 1869 and marked the birth of the impressionist movement.
La Grenouillère by Pierre-Auguste RenoirThe French writer, Guy de Maupassant, named the floating round platform visible in some of these paintings as 'le camembert' - round cheese or 'pot à fleurs' - the flowerpot.
La Grenouillère by Claude MonetThe floating pontoon besides 'le camembert' was destroyed by fire in 1889 along with the dancehall and bathing huts that stood on it. By the beginning of the 20th century as the fashions and attractions of the river bank began to wane, little by little the various establishments closed their doors.
Today it is difficult to imagine what a popular and very lively place this area of the River Seine was way back in those hedonistic days.
The local residents complained about the 'goings on' down at La Grenouillère - indeed a cleric exclaimed "the many things one sees from Croissy, when looking through a telescope, are indeed shocking to behold!!!"Today there is a quiet pedestrian promenade where residents walk their dogs, stroll with their babies, ride their bikes, jog or just wander along admiring the peaceful river and the beauty of the trees.
On the other side of the promenade are some grand la belle époque houses sitting in large gardens.
Enamelled boards can be seen along the riverside showing impressionist works of art displayed in the exact locations where they were originally painted.
The entrance gates to an Arts and Crafts house called Matapao
At the turn of the 20th century the owners kept an elephant called Matapao. Every day they took him down their garden and across the promenade to some steps down the riverbank leading into the Seine. He would have lots of fun splashing around and playing in the water, spraying himself and taking a drink.
A short wander further down the riverbank is Chatou where Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted one of my favourite paintings - Luncheon of the Boating Party, a painting which captures an idyllic atmosphere as Renoir's friends share food, wine, and conversation on a balcony overlooking the Seine at Maison Fournaise.
On this hot June day it was possible to sense the atmosphere in Renoir's painting. His friends, who have been eating, drinking and enjoying themselves, have just departed to continue their trip up the river
The next location takes us high up to the wooded slopes on the opposite side of the river in Louveciennes where Louis XV installed Madame du Barry in a local Château
|Le Village de Voisins, Louveciennes - Camille Pissarro |
Le chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes - Alfred Sisley - The Way of the Machine, so called because of King Louis XlV's pumping station down at the bottom of the hillside beside the Seine. This I will show in another post. To the right of this painting is the wall behind which Madame du Barry resided
It is not easy to relate this view to the painting by Sisley as the trees are now so dominant. On his painting Paris is visible in the distance, but now it is necessary to walk to the end of the road and then down the hillside before you get a view of Paris, but...
I found the Pigeonnière hidden behind bushes which is shown on the left-hand side of his painting, then strolled along the leafy boulevard.....
....to see Paris lying at our feet now dominated by La Défense on the horizon
I don't have a good enough camera for distance but with help from 'Picmonkey' I have managed to get nearer into the view
The many little lanes around Louveciennes felt reassuringly familiar. They make regular appearances during all the seasons of the year in Pissarro's, Sisley's, and Renoir's paintings.
Le Château du Pont, Louveciennes
This pretty medieval castle with it's imposing entrance was painted by Jeanne Baudot. She was the only student of Auguste Renoir, and was also the author of a book called Renoir, his friends and models.
She painted the picture from the house where she lived and where Renoir had his workshop
♡ on my posts from Paris special thanks go to my dear DiL not only for kindly ferrying us around, but for passing on her knowledge, and continually steering us in the right direction ♡