The artist had studied European art in great detail but most of it he came across whilst living in Spain, rather than the more northern regions. He decided to visit the stunning city of Bruges and it was there that he created this painting in 1909. Whilst being a delightful artwork in its own right, one might not instantly recognise this as being from the career of Diego Rivera, and perhaps instead attribute it to a forward-thinking local artist from the early 20th century. Rivera would take many elements of European art into his own style and this helped his work to succeed outside of his native Mexico, catering to a wider international audience. Bruges itself is a highly historic city and is most respected for its architecture which is perfectly captured in this painting, featuring a house and bridge in combination across a narrow river. He may well have walked around these narrow, cobbled streets in search of views such as this for several hours, although the city is fairly small and can be seen in a single day.
The painting itself is around 120cm wide by 140cm tall and would make an interesting addition to the museum in Mexico City that currently hosts it, because of its inclusion of North European architecture. There are trees leading in from the right hand side, perhaps pointing over a wall. This has the effect of narrowing the scene even further. To the left is a straight row of houses which have been built directly along the path of the river, with small windows which allow the residents to watch the occasional passer-by. At the back is the main focal point of the piece, with a house which cuts across the scene and sits atop a arched bridge. One assumes that on the other side of this building is a small street, allowing others to cut across the river, and the bridge itself is just long enough to accomodate that. The angle of the bridge suggests a slight curve in the river at that point, unless the perspective is slightly off in this painting.
The artist is actually believed to have travelled from Spain to make a series of sketches around Bruges before then later working some of these into finished paintings from a studio that he set up in the French capital, Paris. Since this painting was completed, the actual location has been identified and much remains the same, such is the way in which Bruges has been protected from development. One of the houses within this scene is believed to now be home to the Brangwyn Museum with the XVth century Gruuthuse Palace running along the left hand side. It is the Reie Canal that flows through the centre of the composition and continues on throughout other parts of this historic and beautiful city. In these tight knit streets there is a subtle use of light which creates shadow and darkened spots which Rivera focuses on here, which is far removed from the scenes in Mexico which would normally be saturated in bright light.