Observing the River Thames through the eyes of Monet
  • Europe /
  • England /
  • London

A romantic walk along the River Thames following the footsteps of the famous painter

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge (by Barcex, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)
"The Pool of London" (1871)

Tower Bridge (by Barcex, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

We are at Tower Bridge, considered one of the symbols of London that connects the boroughs of Southwark and Tower Hamlets, near the Tower of London, after which it is named.

Before explaining the relationship that links this magnificent structure to our artist, we must first define what brought Monet to London. So let’s briefly jump back into the private life of the French artist and discover his story.

Oscar-Claude Monet was the son of grocer Claude Adolphe Monet, who, after having sailed the seas of Europe as a sailor on a merchant ship from Le Havre, had returned to Paris to marry Louise-Justine Aubrée. This union was crowned by the birth of Léon Pascal in 1836, and Oscar, baptised by his parents with this name but destined to enter the pages of art history books as Claude Monet.

Monet benefited from a bourgeois lifestyle, spending an affluent, outdoor boyhood, thanks to which he cultivated a visceral love of Norman landscapes, the countryside and the sea. This passion would be crucial to his future painting career.

The school did not appeal to him, and his four years at the Collège Communal only stifled his creativity. One subject that did, however, capture his interest early on was drawing. Monet’s artistic vocation, which by now had become intense, almost burning, turned into a real job that guided him to become one of the most famous painters of all time. In 1870 Monet moved with his wife Camille and young son Jean to Trouville, Normandy. 

What was initially a peaceful vacation in a small village, however, was soon bloodied by the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War: under German cannon fire, the Second Empire collapsed disastrously, Paris was besieged, and Monet, to avoid being drafted and sacrificing his life had to sail to English territory. 

Away from the war, Monet was able here to concentrate and continue his work.

Although he failed to exhibit at the Royal Academy, Monet nevertheless continued to work hard, fixing in his paintings the charm emanating from the River Thames and various London parks. 

It was just a few steps from this bridge that Monet painted in 1871, “Boats in the Pool of London”, one of his first “glimpses” of the British capital.

However, with the conclusion of the peace treaties in 1871, the Franco-Prussian war could be said to have finally ended: it no longer made sense for Monet to remain in London.

The artist, therefore, returned to France, passing by the Netherlands, where he immortalised windmills, canals and the Dutch landscape forever. After that, Monet began a period of frequent and extensive travel that took him to many European destinations.


1. Tower Bridge

2. Industrial glimpses

3. Savoy Hotel

4. St Thomas' Hospital

5. National Gallery Museum