Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather
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Arty Fact

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You know what they say, the best place to vacation is an industrial city.

Pissarro really took those words to heart when he started vacationing by the Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, in rainy weather.

It was September of 1896 and Pissarro lived in a tiny little village called Eragny.  It was about 50 miles from Paris and well, let’s face it, terribly dull. Pissarro would sometimes get bored, enjoying all this beautiful nature. So, he found this industrial city in which to vacation, because nothing says you’re on a holiday like noise, pollution, and also noise pollution. All the cool Impressionists were hanging out there, and Pissarro didn’t want to be left behind.

On Pissarro’s earlier visits, he had just been walking around town, painting whatever he observed. It wasn’t really tied together, it was just random. In 1896, a year after Pisarro’s last visit to Rouen, Claude Monet’s exhibition was on at the Durand-Ruel Gallery. Pissarro was heavily inspired by the work Monet had done with the cathedral in Rouen. He found the concept of a series fascinating and decided to try it for himself. He painted the bridge on his second visit to Rouen that year. He stumbled out of his hotel room at the end of the trip with a grand total of 48 paintings of it.

Around this time, Pissarro developed an eye infection and gave up painting outside. So, he would stay indoors, in his hotel room, or a cafe, painting whatever he could see through the windows. Most of his paintings were composed as if they were painted from a high building. This was revolutionary, like break-the-internet big. Artists in France quickly picked up on the trend and started painting out of hotel rooms on high floors. 

The steam boat, the workmen, the bridge, the hustle, the bustle, it was all very exciting for Pissarro. He loved his life in the village, but sometimes you’ve just got to go the city to get the gears churning again. 




  1. “Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather, 1896 by Camille Pissarro.” Camille Pissarro, n.d.
  2. “Pissarro in Eragny.” Pissarro in Eragny | Musee du Luxembourg, n.d.
  3. Bellet, Harry. “France's Rouen Revisits Its Impressionist Past.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 20, 2010.
  4. “Musée D'art Moderne André Malraux.” Pissarro dans les ports | MuMa Le Havre : site officiel du musée d'art moderne André Malraux, n.d.
  5. National Gallery of Australia. “Masterpieces from Paris - LEARN MORE: Camille PISSARRO: Pont Boïeldieu, Rouen, Sunset, Misty Weather [Le Pont Boïeldieu à Rouen, Soleil Couchant, Temps Brumeux].” Masterpieces from Paris - LEARN MORE| Camille PISSARRO | Pon
  6. “Camille Pissarro (French, 1830 - 1903) (Getty Museum).” The J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles, n.d.
  7. “Pissarro: a Painter for the People.” AGO Art Matters, July 17, 2018.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather

Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather is an 1896 painting by Camille Pissarro in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is one of a series of painting Pissarro did of Pont Boïeldieu and the industrial quays surrounding it. Pissarro spent time in Rouen in 1896 seeking to paint the industrial modernity of the area. He had earlier made a trip in 1883, and did one series of images of the city then. On his 1896 trip he stayed at the Hôtel de Paris in Rouen, from January to April 1896, and it is in this period that this painting was made. His room overlooked the Seine, and it is from this vantage point that it is painted.

The subject is the Pont Boieldieu, an iron bridge completed a few years before in 1885. Across the river is the Gare d'Orléans train station and the Place Carnot square. The painting shows Pissarro's interest in moving beyond traditional landscape paintings of verdant rural scenes. His Rouen series instead focuses on the bustle of the modern city. The Rouen pictures would be followed by a series of paintings of urban Paris. Style-wise, Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather is a return to Impressionism after a decade of experimenting with Post-Impressionism and Pointalism. Pissarro deliberately sought out a view of the busy industrial section of the town, and produced a number of paintings of the view from the hotel in different light conditions and different weather. He did another picture of the Pont Boieldieu from the same angle, but in a foggy sunset that is today at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen.

In a letter written that year, Pissarro himself describes the painting: "The theme is the bridge near the Placede la Bourse with the effects of rain, crowds of people coming and going, smoke from the boats, quays with cranes, workers in the foreground, and all this in grey colors glistening in the rain." He further wrote, "what particularly interests me is the motif off the iron bridge in wet weather with all the vehicles, pedestrians, workers on the embankment, boats, smoke, haze in the distance; it's so spirited, so alive.

The painting was donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Reuben Wells Leonard upon his death in 1937. It is one of six Pissarros on public display in Canada, with two others at the AGO, and the others being at the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather.