The arrival of the railway in 1851 turned Argenteuil into a popular destination for Parisian day-trippers, seeking the pleasures of boating in a somewhat rural setting. However, by the 1870s, Argenteuil was turning into an industrial city, with tanneries, chemical plants and the vast Joly ironworks visible from the banks of the river.

This painting was shown at the Second Impressionist Exhibition in 1876, and critics varied in their reactions: for some, the bright hues made the painting an ‘eastern fairytale’, whilst for others it was artificial and overdone. For the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, it was a triumph. He commented that ‘Claude Monet loves water, and it is his special gift to portray its mobility and transparency, be it sea or river, grey and monotonous or coloured by the sky.’ This was one of many canvases that Monet painted of Argenteuil whilst he lived there from 1872 to 1877.

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Impressionists and Post Impressionists
With Dr Caroline Campbell, Schroder Foundation Curator of Paintings.

Watch the movie [9:37 min]