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Sunday
Jul022006

Paris - view of la Seine

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Péniches of Paris
Here's a painting I did of Paris on a wet winters day from Pont des Arts looking over the péniches (old commercial barges converted to houseboats) towards Île de la Cité and the oldest bridge in Paris - Pont Neuf (over 400 years old). I rendered it in acrylic housepaints on a sheet of Masonite I found in the street. It's been under the bed for the last few years and I just got it out again and re-did the foreground. I was originally attracted to the bright light shining through the clouds and rain and highlighting an area over the bridge on the top-right.

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Pont Neuf
At the middle of the 16th century only two bridges crossed the Seine river. Since they were in a bad state and constantly overcrowded, King Henry III decided in 1578 to construct a new bridge.
It wasn't until 1607 before the bridge was officially opened by King Henry IV, who named the bridge 'Pont Neuf'. After his death, an equestrian statue of the King was erected at the centre of the bridge, on the square du Vert-Galant near where you get the Vedettes for a river-cruise. The bronze statue was knocked over by the mob and melted down during the French Revolution but was replaced by an exact replica in 1818.

The Pont Neuf was the first bridge in Paris without houses built on it. It was also the first bridge with pavements which made it an immediate hit with the Parisians who used the bridge as a meeting place. Especially the round areas between the arches.

Recently it's been undergoing renovation - some of the stonework has been replaced but it's still sitting on the original wooden piles. Amazing. It nearly didn't make it this far. The Germans had explosives packed under it ready to go as the Allies were advancing on Paris during WWII - see Is Paris Burning? - the book and film.231239-381741-thumbnail.jpg
it's a wrap!
Christo wrapped Pont Neuf in fabric in 1985 -

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Reader Comments (5)

Lovely painting, Mal - it's the rendering of light that makes a picture like this. Thanks for the story of the bridge, too - I remember Pont Neuf as seen from a bateau-mouche!
July 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLou
Nice painting mate!
July 3, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermushroom
30 odd years to build a lousy bridge ??
Presumably that's why they went from Pont Deux to Pont Neuf...it would have been embarassing to tell the world they were only up to Pont Tres...
July 3, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfingers
"Pont Neuf" means "New Bridge" mate. And it took so long because the "Wars of Religion" kept getting in the way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pont_Neuf
July 3, 2006 | Registered CommenterMalcolm Lambe
Don't be absurd.
That would be Pont Nouveau...
July 3, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfingers

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