Bateau-Lavoir prés du Pont-Neuf, Paris; Johan Jongkind
From our vantage point in time, we have a tendency to call paintings like this one — with its loose, painterly brushwork, depiction of everyday events, and contrasting complementary colors — “impressionistic”.
It’s another reminder that the characteristics we associate with French Impressionism were not invented out of whole cloth by Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Bazille, but were in large part a logical progression from painters who immediately preceded them.
Like similar works by Charles-François Daubigny, this was painted several years prior to Monet’s first known painting, let alone the height of the Impressionist style, which came a decade later.
Here, Johan Jongkind, a Dutch painter who worked extensively in Paris, portrays a laundry boat moored in the Siene near the Pont-Neuf.
This is hardly the romantic image we have of the Seine in the 19th century, but that was part of the point of the move toward “Realism” instigated by painters like Courbet and Corot, that the everyday activities or ordinary people were worthy of painting, not just the romanticized and idealized visions of Academic painting.
Jongkind painted at least one other interpretation of this scene — a composition in darker light, with a vantage point closer to the boat and bridge — that is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was painted perhaps earlier the same year.
The painting shown here is currently in a private collection; it was sold through Sotheby’s auctions in 2011.
Link is to Wikimedia Commons, which has a downloadable version of the image.