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Theodore Robinson spent much of the period from 1887 to 1892 away from the United States. During his long stays in Europe he visited Barbizon, Dieppe and Arconville in France and resided chiefly in Giverny, where he assimilated the teachings of Claude Monet. Of all the American painters who were beginning to make a pilgrimage to this small village northeast of Paris where the elderly Impressionist painter lived, Robinson had the closest friendship with the master, even though his sober, dry style was fairly distant from the luminism of the French artist.
The Old Bridge, executed in 1890, is one of the works that combine Monet’s teachings with the mark left on Robinson by the strict academic training received during his youth. Although, like the French Impressionists, the painter attempted to capture a particular instant and aimed to represent the fleetingness of the scene through loose brushstrokes, the geometric forms of the bridge give the composition a powerful, convincing structure. The artist wrote in his diaries that he aspired to harmonise the luminosity of outdoor light with the austerity and sobriety that have always characterised fine painting.