Justin OUVRIE (Paris, 1806 – Rouen, 1879)
Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil
Oil on strong cardboard
Signed (traces) lower left
27 x 35 cm
Justin Ouvrié was one of the leading and most prolific French landscape painters in the 19th century. Nephew of the playwright and librettist Eugène Scribe (1791-1861), trained by Abel de Pujol and the architect André-Marie Châtillon, he specialized in views with great topographic precision and architectural rigor, tinged with picturesque.
He was one of the first collaborators of Baron Taylor (whom he was godson) for his Picturesque and Romantic Travels in ancient France. A great traveler, he traveled all over France, went as far as Italy, but his favorite destinations were the countries of the North: Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, Holland and Belgium. He exhibited at the Salon more than 150 works, from 1831 until 1873, obtaining regular awards.
Adept of compositions mixing landscape and architecture, in which water is almost always present, he realized many views of landscapes “seinois”: the bridge of Pontoise in 1833, Rouen in 1836, Pont de L’Arche in 1848, the bridge from Vernon …
The composition of our painting respects the principles of the classical landscape and the inevitable staggering of the plans.
The treatment of the elements, sky / clouds, water, people, buildings, ridge lines, foliage … is in perfect coherence with the Ouvrié way.
If he was represented many times by the Impressionists (Monet, Caillebotte, Sisley …), the bridge of Argenteuil is the subject of a very small iconography before 1870. This bridge toll (which we see one of the two pavilions placed on each bank) was built in the early 1830s to replace the existing ferry and was destroyed in the war of 1870: its wooden frame rested on stone piles.
Long before the Impressionists, who made it a world famous place, Ouvrié, in a more classical way, renders with sensitivity the atmospheric effects, the reflections of the constructions on the river … The residence with the small pediment, a little on the right of the bridge, is found in the paintings of Monet Argenteuil, The repair bridge of 1871, and Sisley The bridge of Argenteuil of 1872.
It seems that we are still right before the industrial development of Argenteuil, which begins in the 1850s, and its tourist development, favored by the railway line that uses the bridge from 1863. In the absence of reference iconography, it is difficult to know if the barriers of the bridge are those of the railway or not; the style of the painting, and the fact that the painter did not represent the train (at least by a trail of smoke), suggests to us that we are certainly before 1863.
On the right side stand out the hillock of Orgemont and the silhouette of its mill, which will soon become a guinguette.