Sunday, 29 July 2012

Quai de la Tournelle (steam crane)

Intrigued by the subject in George Guinegauls’ sugar aquatint print, the steam powered unloading crane (grue déchargement a vapeur) in the far corner of Quai de la Tournelle, today an account of my quest and recent discoveries. Before continuing meeting many other artists on this famous spot in Paris. 

This photograph by early photographer Charles Augustin Lhermitte (1881-1945) shows similar steam cranes mounted on river barges.
Besides quay based and mobile unloading cranes these crane-boats were in use and available along the quays of Paris unloading the many Seine barges (bergers de la Seine) delivering supplies to Paris. 
Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) painted such a boat downstream in Bercy:

Eugène Galien Lalloue (1854-1941) shows an identical crane-boat used on both sides of the river: on Quai de la Tournelle and opposite on Quai Henri IV.

Crane boats also were used building and repairing the quays and bridges themselves. Armand Guillaumin's (1841-1927) drawing left and Paul Signac (1863-1935) (right). 

And I perticularly like all the activity that is going on in Maximilien Luce’  (1858-1935) painting. 

Charles Augustin Lhermite was a frequent visitor of the quays. His pioneering photographs evidence his main interest lay in the activities of people, cranes, and horse drawn carriages. And in composition rather than in just shooting buildings and pretty views. These photographic  compositions are created very much in the way of a trained painter. 

He shows a third way using a static crane-unit on Quai de la Tournelle with a steam powered winch from the deck of a barge.

Etcher Anton Schutz (1894-1955) also active in London, New York and his native Germany  was in Paris when steam cranes were used in 1928 when the old Pont de la Tournelle was being rebuild. 

And René-Jacques Giton (1908-2003) shows the new Tournelle bridge in 1935 with an unloading   crane in action.

Eugene  Charvot (1847-1924) is showing a mobile crane on Quai de la Tournelle. In one of his typical round etchings. He also made this fine drawing from the opposite bank,  Quai Henri IV on Île Saint Louis, overlooking river Seine and the Pont de l'Archevêché.

Carles Pinet (1867-1932) is best remembered for his etchings used in a series of famous Paris postcards. He is showing the crane in these both. The right one in detail even. 

American impressionist Frank Myers Boggs (1855-1926) also met the crane on Quai de la Tournelle (left and right). 

and with Manzano Pissaro (1871-1961) (below), son of impressionist painter Camille Pissaro (1830-1903), he was also busy and working on the other, opposite bank at  Quai Henri IV. This crane a bigger species. 
Lucien Gautier (1850-1925) saw the crane at work too on Quai de la Tournelle in a not very well balanced composition (but he was a better etcher) (left) and Gustave Madelein (1867-1944) just makes visible the crane's hook, but did a fine job on the cathedral in a few simple brush strokes (right).
Speaking of simple brush strokes: what about relatively unknown and short lived Paul Thomas (1868-1910) and his stunning rendering of Notre Dame's "abside" seen from the packed and stacked quay? (click to embiggen)

Very much after Frantisek Tavik Simon (1877-1942), who lived and worked in Paris around the same time French artist Manuel Robbe (1872-1936) choose the little crane to feature in these 2 aquatint prints. The second probably seen during the floods of 1910/1911. Robbe also used the alias of Alphons Lafitte and  we'll meet this prolific artist later in a sceduled posting. 

PS: This posting is not supposed to be a complete list of all works of art showing a steam crane on Quai de la Tournelle in Paris. If you think I've missed one I would be very pleased if you'ld let me know and preferably send it to me.


  1. This blog post completely passionates me.

    1. Thank you, merci Mimi ! Positive comments are received in gratitude.