Right behind me is Charraud bridge, upon the river Sedelle. It was often painted by artists. If we were back in the year 1900, we might get a glimpse of a horse carriage on its way to pick artists, travellers and tourists up from St Sebastian train station, to drop them off at Lépinat hotel. Back then, Crozant was as popular as spots such as Etretat in Normandy. On the photographs, you can see that most of the people were Parisians from the 16th “arrondissement”. They came to Crozant for its wilderness and beauty. They also enjoyed hearing the locals speak « patois » and watching little pigs run though the heather. Back then, the area was a lot less woody. The landscape was more visible and you could see the bridge and its two farms. Guillaumin must have painted that particular scene over one hundred times, in fact he spent over a year on it. What is interesting is that behind each of his paintings he wrote « Charraud bridge, September 8th 1904, 7 am.” What characterizes a painting that has been painted outdoors and on the spot, is that you don’t have very much time to carry it out : 10 to 15 minutes at the most. Obviously, it is impossible to paint a perfect and finished painting in such a short lapse of time. This explains the extremely violent reactions in French art galleries in Paris, against the first Impressionist painters. They were told “Gentlemen, come back when you have finished your paintings, we do not expose unfinished works. » They did not understand the Impressionist artist’s approach. However, the painters’ wanted to be true, to be able to grasp a place at a precise moment, with a precise amount of light.
Another interview with Christophe RAMEIX, in which the relationship between artists and the Charraud bridge is explained. Charraud bridge was Guillaumin’s favourite site.