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THEODORE M. WENDEL

BRIDGE AT IPSWICH, ABOUT 1905

About the Artwork

In 1898, Theodore Wendel moved to his wife’s large family farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a rural, seaside town north of Boston. For the next fifteen years, he portrayed this typical New England village with the Impressionist color and broken brush strokes he had learned from Monet at Giverny in 1886. Like many other Impressionists, he chose a bridge as the focus for his painting - the handsome granite, twin-arched Green Street Bridge, built in 1894 over the Ipswich River. Wendel’s canvas differs from French Impressionist paintings in its clarity and solidity, since American artists tended to use light and color to define forms rather than to dissolve them. However, Wendel was very much like his French counterparts in his use of compositional devices borrowed from Japanese aesthetics. He employed a high horizon line, diagonals that divide the composition, truncated forms, the juxtaposition of architectonic manmade structures with soft natural growth, and enlivening red color notes in his painting. The resulting arrangement is flattened and compressed, and the surface pattern is as interesting and important as the subject matter.

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