What’s With The Impressionists and Bridges?

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science– Engineering (Kinds of Bridges)

Social Studies – Countries Around the World (France, Japan)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Ukieyo-e prints

Classifications of Paintings – Landscapes, Cityscapes, Media – Painting, Printmaking

In my last post, I talked about bridges and storytelling. While researching bridge artworks, I noticed a recurring theme.  Impressionists/ Post Impressionists, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley loved their bridges and painted not only one kind of bridge but varying types of bridges. This can easily be explained. The Impressionists were shunning the traditions of the past. Traditional artists painted history and mythological paintings. The Impressionists wanted to paint everyday people and modern life. They went out to the countryside and into the city and painted what they saw. There they would see both the old cart/foot bridges and the newly built train bridges. It makes sense that they would include them in their paintings.

Wouldn’t it be great fun to include some of these paintings as part of an introduction to, a review of or as part of an assessment of different kinds of bridges. I was thinking that the teacher could either make a powerpoint of some examples or print out reproductions of Impressionist train paintings. Students could then identify the arched , beam, draw and suspension bridges. Yes, there were draw bridges and suspension bridges way back in the late 1800s.

Side Note: An art teacher friend shared with me recently that Leonardo da Vinci  designed a suspension bridge way back in the 1400s. Check out information about it here along with some of his other inventions.

Okay, back to business. I prefer the reproduction cards, so students could also categorize the paintings in other ways. (i.e. by artist, by bridge)

These artists tended to paint the same bridge over and over. Monet would paint a bridge at different  times of day or in different kinds of atmospheric conditions. In the past, I talked about Monet painting in all kinds of weather here. Pissarro also painted different atmospheric conditions. All of them painted the same bridges from different points of view. Which Impressionist painted the most bridges?  Here are Impressionist bridge paintings that I found. Simply click on their title to see them. I wasn’t kidding when I said they liked to paint bridges, so pick and choose which paintings best match your curriculum.

Arched Bridges

Camille Pissarro’s Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather, The Great Bridge, RouenThe Boieldiieu Bridge at Rouen, Setting Sun, Foggy Weather 1896

Vincent Van Gogh’s Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnières) , The Seine Bridge At Asnieres

Vincent Van Gogh’s Pont du Carrousel with Louvre

Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, Sun Effect, 1903 Monet painted Waterloo Bridge’s fog at many different times of day. Look here to see them.

Claude Monet’s The Bridge at Argenteuil 1874The Argenteuil Bridge 1874, Bridge at Argenteuil on a Grey Day

Claude Monet’s Le Pont de Bois

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Moret at Sunset

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at St Cloud

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Argenteuil

Alfred Sisley’s Under the Bridge at Hampton Court

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Saint-Mammès This bridge is half arched and half beamed.

Camille Pissarro’s Little Bridge on Voisne, Osny

Camille Pissarro’s Pont Royal and the Pavillon De Flore

Beamed Bridges

Claude Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1901 Monet painted many versions of this bridge. Look here to find more examples.

Claude Monet’s Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil

Claude Monet’s The Grande Creuse at Pont de Vervy

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Bridge at Trinquetaille

Vincent Van Gogh’s Bridges across the Seine at Asnières This painting also shows an arched bridge in the background. This painting is also featured in the new movie, Loving Vincent, which is animated totally with paintings. A beautiful tribute to Van Gogh.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Railroad Bridge Over Avenue Montmajour  This painting is also in Loving Vincent!

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Promenade With the Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil

Camille Pissarro’s Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1890

Camille Pissarro’s Old Chelsea Bridge, London 1871

Camille Pissarro’s The Railway Bridge, Pontoise There is also an arched bridge in the background.

Draw Bridges

Vincent Van Gogh’s  Langlois Bridge at Arles Van Gogh painted several versions of this bridge. You can find examples of them here.

Claude Monet’s The Bridge, AmsterdamCanal in Amsterdam1874 The Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam

Suspension Bridge

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne

Students could also draw/paint their own bridge example to show their understanding of bridge types. Simply write down the different kinds of bridges on slips of paper, have students choose one and draw the basic characteristics on a piece of paper. Students could then follow blogger, Art With Mr. Hall’s lesson, that can be found here. This is a great way to assess visual learners.

Before I close, I’d like to talk about one more influence on Impressionists/ Post Impressionists. It was the Japanese. Yes, I said the Japanese. At this point in time, all things Japanese, including Ukieyo-e prints were very popular in Paris. This Japanese influence was called Japonism. Blogger, www. Art Smarts for Kids.com,  explains Japonism very well here.  Many artists owned Ukieyo-e prints, especially Monet and Van Gogh. Van Gogh copied his own version of Hiroshige’s  Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi bridge and Atake.

Monet went a step further and built a Japanese arched bridge similar to Hiroshige’s “Wisteria at Kameido Tenjin Shrine” #65 (seen above left) on his property at Giverny. Monet’s painting, The Japanese Footbridge , is probably one of his most recognizable works. Another bridge art project you could do with your students is a styrofoam print. See steps below.

Bridge Prints

For more bridge art examples, check out my Pinterest page here.

So, if you are studying different kinds of bridges, why not let the Impressionists help you out? What do you think? I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


A Bridge Pic, Just Because

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies (State Waterways and Bridges), Language Arts – Literature, Storytelling,  Science – Engineering (Bridges)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Faith Ringgold, Media – Quilts, Painting, Principles of Art – Proportion, Art Careers – Fine Artist, Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Point of View

                                                     Because I hail from Maryland,                                                                             And because Maryland has a big ole bay nearly splitting it in two,                                             And lots of rivers, creeks and streams peppering through it,                                             And because there are two bridges connecting the eastern and western shores of                                                                         Maryland.                                                                                                             And because fourth grade always studies Maryland,                                                                    A bridge project was always on my art teaching bucket list. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition. However, if a bridge lesson had come about, I would have gone straight to Faith Ringgold for inspiration.


You probably know Ringgold as the writer /illustrator of the book,  Tar Beach, but those illustrations are actually her artwork. She is an artist who creates painted storytelling quilts. Quilts are a part of her African American Heritage and the stories come from her childhood memories . The George Washington Bridge and other bridges are frequently depicted in her storytelling quilts. Sonny’s Quilt”, Dancing on the George Washington Bridge”, and Double Dutch on the Golden Gate Bridge: Woman on a Bridge #2″ are three bridge examples. What do these three works have in common? They all show people doing something on a bridge. In my virtual lesson, I would ask students what experiences they may have had on, under or around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or other Maryland bridges. (Road over, ran/ walked over in a marathon, a boat ride under, fishing under, hung out at Sandy Point Beach nearby, flew over in an airplane). Do you have famous waterways and bridges in your state you could include in a social studies lesson? As an art teacher, this project would follow a lesson on creating a proportionate person using ovals.  We would begin by reviewing drawing people, discuss the basic shapes involved in drawing a bridge, and then discuss point of view. Look here, here, here, and here to find Ringgold and other artists who made the Brooklyn bridge from different points of view.  You can find some simplified bridge drawings in this post.    Students would then illustrate their own real or imaginary bridge experience including the bridge and at least one proportionate person. I would have the students watercolor over the entire drawing in sky and water colors and then paint in the details with tempera paint. For classroom purposes, this may take too long. If so, simply have students color in with crayons, colored pencils or markers. If you wish to take this in a storytelling quilt direction, students could write their experience across the bottom or top of the drawing. Students could then glue squares of wallpaper or patterned scrapbooking paper around their drawing/painting to create a boarder. See my example below.



All the quilt blocks could be displayed together on a bulletin board or blank wall to create a class quilt.

A cool extension to this literature lesson would be to read Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty with your students and see the cool suspension bridge he comes up with in a pinch. Also, see some extensions for this book here at Carrots are Orange.

All the bridge paintings highlighted in this post were suspension bridges. So, if you simply want to stick to science objectives, you could display them as examples of suspension bridges.

So, whether you’d like to investigate bridges through Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, or all of the above, enjoy. How do you teach bridges in your classroom. I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!