Bridge across a Pond
1890 by Paul Cézanne
The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
Bridge across a pond was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest as part of their Degas to Picasso exhibition. A wonderful painterly flurry, the exhibition began with the daubs of Impressionism, watching them migrate canvas to canvas to become extracted by Picasso and the Cubists. Cézanne’s work slotted into that teeming time at the end of the nineteenth-century, where painters were somewhere in-between. His work has all the movement of impressionism, the painterly dappling of brush strokes, yet also the acute awareness of expressing objects through shape, extracting their energy to watch them fragment before our eyes. Bridge across a Pond does just this; the trees rustle, flutter, grow it seems on top of one another, multiplying in vaguely angular pieces, yet this is all seen through an Impressionist haze. Each piece of the puzzle is made up of a squiggle of paint, a zig-zag of colour, so each fragment is in-concrete, deliciously insincere. A hint only of the object it conjures, but a hint of all the best bits — the movement and intensity of the ever-changing colours of nature. The greens and blues rule this canvas, taking up almost all its entirety they so are intense and various. Evoking the freshness of outdoors, they summon the atmosphere of the painting, highly textured at the top and stilled in the reflection of water at the bottom. It is interesting to bear Monet’s canvases in mind when looking at this painting for he also painted trees and water surrounding a bridge and, looking at the two, we can see Cézanne’s migration from Impressionism, his brush strokes that move and multiply that bit more.