Bridge over the Seine

Christopher Wood (1901 - 1930)

Oil on canvas

c.1921-1927

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  • About the work
    This Parisian scene by Christopher Wood is animated by figures occupied in various activities on the bank of a stretch of the River Seine. The main action of the scene focuses on a group of people at the centre. Two small girls watch anxiously as a man on the riverbank breaks up a scuffle between his dogs. Figures rowing past in a boat watch the action unfold; while in the distance, children play football and another man standing on the footbridge, watches the scene below.

    Although undated, Bridge over the Seine was most probably painted in the early or mid 1920s, a period when Wood lived and studied in Paris. A number of other paintings (in private collections) formally dated as 1925, also depict scenes of daily life in the affluent Parisian suburbs of Passy, Neuilly and St Cloud. In these works, Wood’s lively painting style and bold colour shows the direct influence of Fauvist artists such as André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, both of whom he greatly admired. In Bridge Over the Seine, one stylistic clue that supports this influence is the distinctive crosshatched diagonal strokes of paint that he used to depict the grassy riverbank. Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, also employed this technique in many of his most famous landscapes and night scenes. Along with the later Fauvists, Van Gogh was another major influence on Wood’s largely self-taught painting style. Other aspects of the Dutch artist’s approach to life had also appealed to Wood. In 1922, Wood travelled across Europe to North Africa and while in Sicily, he read Van Gogh’s published letters. Shortly after, he wrote to his mother: 

     … such a wonderful man. I have read all his memoirs and letters and how he never properly learnt to draw until he was 30 and how he struggled against every opposition, constant illness, no money and no one ever buying his pictures. He died at the age of 36.

    Poignantly, many aspects of Van Gogh’s life and early death by suicide pre-empted aspects of Wood’s own life.
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  • Details
    Title
    Bridge over the Seine
    Date
    c.1921-1927
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 54.00 cm, width: 65.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Redfern Gallery, June 1957
    Inscription
    none
    GAC number
    3814