Le Pont de l'Europe

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Le Pont de l'Europe
English: The Europe Bridge
See adjacent text.
ArtistGustave Caillebotte
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions125 cm × 181 cm (49 in × 71 in)
LocationMusée du Petit Palais [fr], Geneva

Le Pont de l'Europe (English title: The Europe Bridge) is an oil painting by French impressionist Gustave Caillebotte completed in 1876. It is held by the Musée du Petit Palais [fr] in Geneva, Switzerland. The finished canvas measures 125 by 181 centimetres (49 in × 71 in).[1]


The image shows pedestrians in the Place de l'Europe [fr] in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The plaza is a large bridge joining six avenues, each named for a European capital, over the railroad yards at Gare Saint-Lazare. The view is from the rue de Vienne [fr], looking towards the center of the plaza.[2] One of the bridge's trusses is very prominent, visible in half of the image.

Three people are seen in the foreground: a couple walking toward the observer, and a working-class man peering off the bridge toward the train station. A dog walks away from the observer, and other individuals appear in the mid-background. The man of the couple is a flâneur, an upper-class street observer. He is strolling with a woman dressed in black. She has often been interpreted to be a prostitute, according to contemporary social norms regarding women in public, especially in the area of the train station.[3] Alternatively, the man has been thought to be Caillebotte himself, and the woman to be Caillebotte's companion, Anne-Marie Hagen.[4] The flâneur is looking past his companion in the direction of the other man. Feminist art historian Norma Broude has suggested that Caillebotte, a lifelong bachelor, is signalling his own homosexuality with this gaze. In this reading, Caillebotte is an upper-class man cruising for a lower-class male prostitute in this unsavory neighborhood of Paris.[5] However, Caillebotte's sexual orientation is not definitively known.[6]

Caillebotte displayed this image at the impressionist exhibition of 1877, alongside his Rue de Paris, temps de pluie and Claude Monet's Le Pont de l'Europe, Gare Saint-Lazare [nl], which gives an alternate view of the bridge.[7]

Caillebotte, as in many of his works, employs perspective. The vanishing point is located behind the head of the man, which is far to the side of the picture, creating oblique perspective.[8] Caillebotte was influenced by Japanese art, especially the work of Hiroshige, and by photography, then a burgeoning artistic field.[9] In turn, this painted composition may have been an influence in photographer Jeff Wall's work from 1982, Mimic, which features similar exaggerated perspective and class tension between the three similarly situated characters.[10]

Utagawa Hiroshige, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo - #90, Night View of Saruwaka-machi, 1856



  1. ^ Varnedoe 2002, p. 72.
  2. ^ Varnedoe 2002, p. 9.
  3. ^ Rubin 2003, p. 103.
  4. ^ "Lot notes, La femme à la rose". Christies.com. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  5. ^ Broude 2002, p. 130.
  6. ^ Langford 2007, p. 173.
  7. ^ Herbert 1991, p. 24.
  8. ^ Varnedoe 2002, p. 31.
  9. ^ Varnedoe 2002, p. 24.
  10. ^ Langford 2007, p. 172.
  11. ^ "Musee des beaux-arts Rennes: Collections". Archived from the original on 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2013-03-04.


  • Broude, Norma (2002). Gustave Caillebotte and the Fashioning of Identity in Impressionist Paris. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813530180.
  • Herbert, Robert L. (1991). Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. Yale University Press. pp. 312. ISBN 0300050836.
  • Langford, Martha (2007). Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Art. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 367. ISBN 978-0773532113.
  • Rubin, James (2003). Impressionist Cats & Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life. Yale University Press. p. 144. ISBN 0300098731.
  • Varnedoe, Kirk (2000). Gustave Caillebotte. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300082791.
  • Varnedoe, Kirk (2002) [1974]. "Caillebotte's Le Pont de l'Europe: A New Slant". In Broude, Norma (ed.). Gustave Caillebotte and the Fashioning of Identity in Impressionist Paris. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813530180.