Painting the river

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Welcome to the Sédelle riverside. The Sédelle is a small river that flows into the river Creuse. It was a popular spot among artists. The landscape’s proportions are ideal for Impressionists. The background is close and the horizon is high, leaving very little space for the sky.

The colourful riverside used to be pastureland for sheep and was a lot less wooded back when painters used to come here. Brooms, ulex and heather brought yellow, pink and green to the artists’ palettes… But what the artists liked most about the riverside was the sparkling multicolor reflection of the water. In fact water was a cherished theme among Impressionists.

Let’s sum up the three main principles of Impressionist painting : First, artists were to paint their subject on the spot. Second, they were to paint quickly in order to capture the light and third of all, they were to paint by fragmented dabs. These fragmented colours gave the eye of the beholder an impression of vibrancy, movement and light. The mixed superposed tones created what looked like a reflection in the water.

The river brought light to the landscape by reflecting the clear sky. Other Limousin rivers also attracted Impressionists. Norwegian artist Fritz Thaulow painted the river Dordogne in southern Corrèze. Camille Corot, one of the main figures of Landscape Impressionism, often painted the river Glane.

In 1909, among the Post Impressionists who painted the Sédelle, the most famous was avant-garde artist Francis Picabia, before modern painting was to appear.

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Painting the river

Water is difficult to paint. Yet, the Sédelle riverside was one of the Impressionist artists’ favourite subjects. This video explains which riverside elements were essential to the artists who came here.

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