Published On: Fri, Oct 13th, 2023

What is a River in a Van Gogh Painting? – Fishing in Spring at the Pont de Clichy, Asnières

Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork often takes us on journeys through the picturesque landscapes and scenes that he found inspiring. In his painting “Fishing in Spring at the Pont de Clichy, Asnières,” we’re transported to a tranquil riverbank, where the artist’s evolving style and the influence of his friend, Paul Signac, are on full display.

Fishing in Spring by the River

Let’s dive into this masterpiece and explore the details that make it remarkable. The scene captures the beauty of a serene river, with a fisherman patiently waiting for his catch. But before we jump into the analysis, let’s address a couple of questions: What river is depicted in this Van Gogh painting, and what’s the significance of rivers in Van Gogh’s art?

The River in Van Gogh’s Spring

In “Fishing in Spring at the Pont de Clichy, Asnières,” the featured river is the Seine. Van Gogh chose this location for his artwork, a place near Asnières and the Pont de Clichy. It’s a spot where he and his friend Paul Signac painted together on multiple occasions.

Rivers frequently appeared in Van Gogh’s works. He was drawn to them as subjects, appreciating the tranquility they offered and the way they reflected light and colors. They provided him with an opportunity to experiment with his evolving style.

Fishing in Spring – The Analysis

Now, let’s take a closer look at the painting itself. Van Gogh employed a unique technique in this artwork. He used tiny dots and thick dashes of colors like yellow, lavender, and green. These techniques are reminiscent of pointillism, a style often associated with artists like Georges Seurat and, as mentioned earlier, Paul Signac.

The fisherman in the painting is beautifully depicted with blue pants, a yellow-brown shirt, and a black hat. He stands by the Seine, with the Pont de Clichy in the background. The use of color and texture creates a sense of depth and movement in the river, and the reflections on the water’s surface add to the overall impression of tranquility.

The riverbank’s reflection is achieved with multicolored vertical strokes. Lavender and cobalt blues appear on the top left, while green, peach, and blue vertical strokes grace the center-right portion. These strokes give a sense of the riverbank’s appearance and its connection to the water.

The green, yellow, and blue boats moored in the river are anchored to wavy brown poles that seem to be driven into the riverbed. These boats are a testament to man’s use of natural resources, much like the carefully depicted tree trunk on the left side of the painting.

The tree trunk stands tall with its top branches visible in yellow, surrounded by red, green, and black dots and horizontal dashes. These details infuse the tree with character and an almost lifelike emotion, offering comforting shade to the scene.

In the distance, vague figures can be seen crossing the bridge, while the green and yellow leaves frame the tranquil fisherman. The painting captures a moment of peaceful anticipation as the fisherman awaits his catch.


“Fishing in Spring at the Pont de Clichy, Asnières” is a testament to Vincent Van Gogh’s artistic journey, marked by his friendship with Paul Signac. The Seine River setting in the painting near Asnières is a shared inspiration for both artists, resulting in a harmonious blend of styles and techniques.

While this painting isn’t mentioned in Van Gogh’s letters, it remains a beautiful example of his evolving artistry and the influence of those he painted alongside. Though the bridge and exact location have changed, you can still find the place where Van Gogh stood to capture this tranquil scene near the Quai de Clichy, across from Asnières.

In essence, this artwork invites us to appreciate the significance of rivers in Van Gogh’s art, their role in his evolving style, and the peaceful moments they allowed him to capture and share with the world.

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