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Modern Masterpieces: Monet at the National Gallery of Canada

Monet: A Bridge to Modernity displays the Impressionist artist's brilliant images of daily life in Argenteuil. (Photo: Claude Monet, The Railroad Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874, oil on canvas, 54.3 × 73.3 cm. The John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Monet: A Bridge to Modernity displays the Impressionist artist’s brilliant images of daily life in Argenteuil. (Photo: Claude Monet, The Railroad Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874, oil on canvas, 54.3 × 73.3 cm. The John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Claude Monet’s Le pont de bois, painted in 1872, is one of the iconic Impressionist’s earliest paintings. It depicts a funeral procession crossing a wooden bridge on a gloomy day, not long after the end of the Franco-Prussian War — a conflict that devastated the French countryside and spurred the fall of the French Empire. It is just one of many paintings Monet did both of bridges and of Argenteuil, a small town north of Paris, during this turbulent time in France’s history. In Monet: A Bridge to Modernity, Le pont de bois and 12 other paintings testify to Monet’s skill at linking past and future, in both the technical and thematic aspects of his work.

The gallery complements Monet’s work with a history of Argenteuil — including photos, guidebooks, and postcards from the time — as well as prints by Japanese artists Hiroshige and Hokusai, both of whom inspired Monet. The exhibition is on display at the National Gallery of Canada until Feb. 15, 2016. —Amy Allen
•National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr., 613-990-1985. gallery.ca
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