Ten years after moving to Giverny in 1883, Claude Monet envisioned turning a small pond on an adjacent parcel of land into an Asian-influenced water garden. Overcoming the resistance of locals wary of introducing foreign plants into the region, Monet won approval to expand the pond by diverting water from the Epte River. He encircled the basin with a vivacious arrangement of flowers, trees, and bushes, and the next year filled it with water lilies. He added a Japanese-style wooden bridge in 1895, and a few years later started to paint the pond and its water lilies—and never stopped, making them the obsessive focus of his intensely searching work for the next quarter century.
In 1899 Monet painted 12 works that centered on the garden and the Japanese Footbridge he constructed.
Lush and luminous, The Japanese Bridge immerses us in the physical experience of being in the garden. With the bands of the blue bridge suspended like a canopy near the top of the canvas and no sky to be seen, the water and billowing foliage fill the visual field, immersing the viewer in the verdant, brightly colored waterscape. Cool blue and green tones predominate, but are balanced by the pink, white, and yellow lilies floating in complex pattern across the surface of the water from near to far. Controlled, vertical dabs of paint define the sparkling greenery and its fleeting reflection in the water, while the more fluid lilies are rendered with broad, textured, horizontal strokes that emphasize the shared physicality of the paint and the landscape.