Johan Barthold Jongkind produced several views of the boulevard de Port-Royal, which was near his studio in Paris. He often made drawings and watercolour sketches of a scene which he would then use in his studio as the basis for his oil paintings; this picture relates to a watercolour of 1874.
In his later pictures, such as this one, Jongkind used a technique of looser brushwork. Here he has also adopted the unusual technique of outlining details, such as the streetlamps and buildings, with thick strokes of black paint. The colours predominately consist of muted greys, but he has also included bright highlights of colour, such as spots of vivid green on the leaves in the trees and brick-red on the buildings to the right.
His work was admired by members of the Impressionist movement, including Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet, who were both influenced by the older artist.
In this painting, we look east down the boulevard de Port-Royal from a position near the Paris Observatory. In the 1870s Johan Barthold Jongkind produced several views of this boulevard, which was near his studio in the rue de Chevreuse in Montparnasse. He often made drawings and watercolour sketches of a scene which he would then use in his studio as the basis for his oil paintings; this picture relates to a watercolour of 1874.
Although he was born in Latrop in Holland, Jongkind spent most of his career in Paris. When he first arrived in the French capital he worked in the studios of Eugène Isabey, a marine painter, and François-Édouard Picot, who predominantly painted mythological, religious and historical subjects. Jongkind developed a style of painting that influenced the young Impressionists, including Alfred Sisley, Eugène Boudin and Monet, who said it was to Jongkind that he owed ‘the final education of my eye’.
This picture shows the technique Jongkind used in his late work: very loose brushwork applied in a spontaneous and sketch-like way, emulating drawing rather than oil painting. Stippled brushstrokes make up the trees, while sweeping ones describe the clouds as they move in the wind. The sky dominates the composition, stretching across the horizontal canvas. He has used a muted colour palette and the unusual technique of outlining details with black, which is especially prominent in his depiction of the streetlamps and the definition of the buildings on the right. A thick black line defines either side of the street, accentuating the slight rise in the road and drawing our focus to the vanishing point on the horizon, where the smoking chimneys of the city are visible in the distance. The details on the road to the left of the composition are more abstract, with black lines used to give the impression of rubbish in the road, just ahead of a horse-drawn carriage.
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