PISSARRO’S HAYSTACKS

Haystacks, Morning, Éragny 1899 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York   PDR 1282

Haystacks, Morning, Éragny
1899
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York PDR 1282

Camille Pissarro is not known for his haystacks, but perhaps he should be. According to the catalogue raisonne, he painted haystacks when he was only 26 years old—the year after he returned to France to pursue a career as an artist.

In the winter of 1898-99, Pissarro was financially comfortable enough to move his family to Paris for the winter. They stayed in an apartment on Rue Rivoli, no doubt a lot warmer than the old farmhouse at Éragny, and he painted splendid views of the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre.

In June, he and his family returned to their home at Éragny and he painted the “little nooks” he found around him.  He wrote his son Ludovic-Rodolphe, “It’s very beautiful here—you can make a masterpiece out of next to nothing,” and he did.

The deep green trees of midsummer dominate the space, but our eyes go to the three haystacks in the left foreground. As he usually does, Pissarro tells us the place and time of day. It’s morning, fairly early since the shadows are still long. You almost feel the heat of the sun baking the left side of the haystack turning the gold into myriad yellows, pinks, corals. On the other side, the purple shadow mutes those same colors. 

This is one of six haystack paintings he made that summer. In no way did Pissarro intend them to compete with Monet’s haystacks. Each of them is different in composition; some include a peasant woman, who sometimes naps at the base of the haystack.  He did do another one similar to this one, in the late afternoon. It would be fantastic to see these two side by side.

This wonderful painting is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  If you can’t go see it in person, look at it on the Met’s website, which allows you to zoom in close and see every brushstroke.

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/438738#fullscreen

The Camille Pissarro Catalogue Raisonne by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts was published in 2005.

PISSARRO’S PLACES IN NEW YORK

Many thanks to the kind folks who came to the Dobbs Ferry and Harrison libraries a couple weeks ago

to hear my talk on PISSARRO’S PLACES.

It was delightful to talk with you afterward and sign your copies of PISSARRO’S PLACES.

*   *   *   *   *

PISSARRO’S PLACES

is available on the website:

www.pissarrosplaces.com

or at Amazon.

There is a special discount for

friends who visit the website.

PISSARRO IN PARIS — ON THE COVER OF CHRISTIE’S IMPRESSIONIST CATALOGUE

Woman Pushing a Wheelbarrow, 1890 PDR875

Woman Pushing a Wheelbarrow, Éragny 1890
PDR875

Camille Pissarro is in the spotlight again — this time at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Sale to be held 25 March. In fact, a detail of the painting is featured on their catalogue cover.  Early last month, Sotheby’s featured a glorious Pissarro painting of Boulevard Montmartre on the cover of their Impressionist sale catalogue.  The interest in Pissarro’s work is obviously increasing among collectors and auction houses.  His work is finally getting the attention it deserves.

This sun drenched painting of a scene in Éragny was made just after Pissarro turned away from pointilism, the dot technique that had consumed his energy for several years. The Christie’s catalogue describes the change in Pissarro’s technique this way:  “However, rather than using the ‘stifling’ dot, as in his neoimpressionist phase, he uses a much looser, crisscrossing technique, by which he interweaves his brushstrokes, having fractured and divided the marks of paint into a more complex, but also much freer, and livelier pictorial surface.”

On Christie’s website, you can look at this painting up close which allows you to see the tiny brushstrokes and multitude of colors he used to create the image. The subject could not be more “down to earth” than this—a woman pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with manure to the pile at the edge of the field in the bright sunlight. The hedge row draws a slight diagonal to the horizon line and the steep pitched roof and gigantic tree lift our eyes to the fluffy clouds.

Pissarro made another painting of the same place in Éragny, but the manure pile is replaced with clusters of wild flowers.  The same tree and roof appear, and a woman (looks like the same one) is walking with a goat in the opposite direction.  This wonderful painting “Woman and Goat at Eragny” (PDR 874) is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Woman and Goat at Éragny, 1889 PDR 874

Woman and Goat at Éragny, 1889
PDR 874

PISSARRO’S PLACES IN NEW YORK

DOBBS FERRY AND HARRISON

YOU’RE INVITED

Please join me March 22 at 2 pm for a slide-lecture based on my book PISSARRO’S PLACES, Dobbs Ferry Public Library, 55 Main Street, 914-693-6614

 Or  March 23 at 2 pm for a slide-lecture based on my book PISSARRO’S PLACES, Harrison Public Library, 2 Bruce Avenue, 914-835-8324

PISSARRO’S PLACES is available on the book’s website: http://www.pissarrosplaces.com and on Amazon.

PISSARRO — AN INTERNATIONAL FAVORITE

Self-Portrait, 1903

 

 

Are you one of the dozens of people who visited this Pissarro website in the past thirty days?

Visitors were from the following countries: United States, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, Canada, Greece, Czech Republic, Australia, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Israel, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Belgium, Thailand, South Africa, Finland, Netherlands, Hungary, Russian Federation, Poland, Slovakia, Indonesia, Phillippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates.

If you were one of these, thank you and please visit the website often.

UPCOMING TALKS ON PISSARRO’S PLACES

Dobbs Ferry, NY Public Library, March 22, 2 pm

Harrison, NY Public Library, March 23, 2 pm

PISSARRO’S PLACES

http://www.pissarrosplaces.com

 

 

 

A Winter Landscape

The Banks of the Marne in Winter 1866 Art Institute of Chicago PDR 107

The Banks of the Marne in Winter 1866
Art Institute of Chicago PDR 107

This elegant painting by  Pissarro, which appeared in the Salon of 1866, must have looked very different from the others. It drew the attention of critics, one of whom called it a “vulgar view.” We know that Pissarro lived nearby. After he died, this picture was included in the inventory of his works and was called Landscape at La Varenne-Saint-Hilaire. He and his companion Julie were living there the previous spring, when their first daughter Jeanne Rachel was born.

But why this scene, which is so bleak, so empty? It is intriguing because of its mystery—it does not tell a story, does not pamper the eye. It is a tightly-woven geometric structure of horizontal and diagonal lines that pulls you into its web. Anchoring the painting is the straight line beginning with the river bank on the left of the canvas and meeting what we assume is a road with the horse and carriage, then extends through the smattering of houses to the right edge. In the midst of the dark green ground cover, a shorter line of dark earth extends to the right side. Midway up the mountain just below the white house on the crest of the hill is another dark line, presumably a road.

These three more or less parallel lines are slashed by the strong diagonal road leading from the left lower corner, accentuated by spindly leafless trees. A woman walks the other direction to draw our attention to the carriage with white horses at the corner. There are other diagonals, softer ones—the line of trees from the crest of the hill to a house below and a renegade dark line in the clouds above.

For Pissarro, it was enough. And for Emile Zola, a writer and art critic who was seeing Pissarro’s work for the first time, it also was enough. He wrote a long glowing review of the painting including the following comments: “…you ought to know that you please nobody and that your painting is thought to be too bare, too black. So why the devil do you have the arrant awkwardness to paint solidly and study nature so honestly!…Not the least delectation for the eye. A grave and austere kind of painting, an extreme care for truth and rightness, an iron will. You are a clumsy blunderer, sir —you are an artist that I like.”

Looking at a Pissarro painting is not always easy—he requires us to think, to look closely and to question what we see.  This is why his paintings are endlessly interesting.

The quote from Zola is taken from Pissarro:Critical Catalogue, Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts (2005).

This painting is one of 35 paintings by Pissarro featured in the book PISSARRO’S PLACES www.pissarrosplaces.com

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  One winter day while returning on the train from Reims to Paris, I saw a line of hills that looked strikingly familiar, and even more so because of a bright green ground cover of some sort that extended from the railroad tracks to some houses. I quickly checked the GPS of my phone and found, much to my surprise, I was in the very area painted by Pissarro!  

PISSARRO in Australia

A Meadow at Eragny, 1886, PDR 829

A Meadow at Eragny, 1886, PDR 829

When Sotheby’s held their Impressionist sale last November, this blog featured their offering of seven paintings by Pissarro.  This was one of them, and it has a new home–in a museum on view for all of us to see for many years to come.

The Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide purchased this painting for their collection, according a story in THE AUSTRALIAN, Sydney’s daily newspaper. The Art Gallery, founded in 1881, has an outstanding collection of 38,000 works of art from Australia, Europe, North America, and Asia. Adelaide is the fifth largest city in Australia and is located on the southern coast west of Sydney.

Pissarro made this glorious painting in 1886 during the time he was experimenting with pointillism.  It’s a small painting, only 24 1/2 by 28 7/8 in. It is one of those that must be seen in person to get the full effect. Photographs cannot capture the delicate colors and myriad tiny brushstrokes. The apple tree is obviously the focal point. It is the largest object, just off center to the left, and it stands at a point where three different fields meet.

It’s autumn, judging by the golden trees in the background, and if you look carefully, you can see red apples on the tree. It is probably late afternoon. The full strength of the setting sun is clearly shown on the tree’s left side. Its shadow is almost long enough to reach the post some distance to the right. It’s hard to tell, but when you see it in person, the light in the sky graduates slowly from a clear blue at the top of the canvas to a light coral above the horizon.

Nothing is as good as seeing a Pissarro painting in person, especially this one. Australia, anyone?

PISSARRO in London at Sotheby’s–”An Exceptional Masterwork”

Boulevard Montmaratre, Spring Morning, 1897 PDR 1171

Boulevard Montmartre, Spring Morning, 1897
PDR 1171

Pissarro’s elegant painting, Boulevard Montmartre, Spring Morning is “one of the most important Impressionist masterworks to come to auction in the last decade,” according to Sotheby’s in London where it will be auctioned in February. The picture’s breathtaking beauty is matched by its amazing history.

Carol Vogel told the story in her New York Times column Inside Art on December 19, 2013:  Max Silberberg, a Jewish industrialist and collector from Breslau, Germany, owned it until the Nazis forced the sale of his collection; he was killed in the Holocaust. It was sold at auction in Berlin in 1935, and had several owners until 1960, when the Manhattan gallery Knoedler & Company sold it to John and Frances L. Loeb, philanthropists from New York. They gave the painting to the Israel Museum after Mr. Loeb’s death in 1996.

But after Gerta Silberberg, the daughter-in-law of Max Silberberg, filed a claim, the museum returned the painting to her; she allowed the museum to display it on long-term loan. Earlier this year, Ms. Silberberg died and her estate is selling the painting.

Pissarro’s dealer Durand-Ruel encouraged him to paint the large boulevards of Paris.  From February to April 1897, he lived and painted in a room with a clear view of Boulevard Montmartre on the left and the Boulevard des Italiens on the right. He made fourteen paintings of Boulevard Montmartre, depicting almost every possible weather condition from pounding rain to bright sunshine. This painting depicts one of those rare spring days when the  sunlight falling on the street creates lacy shadows through the fringe of new leaves on the young trees.

Sotheby’s  http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/BID/2877520219x0x714973/6677a87c-a218-48ed-b435-e649f6d21233/714973.pdf

PISSARRO in Detroit……for now.

The Path, 1889 Camille Pissarro, PDR 871 Detroit Institute of Art

The Path, 1889
Camille Pissarro, PDR 871
Detroit Institute of Art

This beautiful pointillist painting by Pissarro at Detroit Institute of Art is one of those owned by the City of Detroit and may be caught in the middle of the city’s bankruptcy.

According to an article in the Washington Post (December 16, 2013) “Christie’s, which has been poring over the collection for months, said it will include recommendations for how Detroit might make money while maintaining ownership of some of its most valuable pieces — including Degas’ ”Dancers in the Green Room,” Pissarro’s “The Path” and Renoir’s “Graziella.” But the city may have to sell off works many consider integral to the cultural soul of the city in order to help repay creditors, including retired public workers whose pensions could take a huge hit.”  

It is ironic that Pissarro himself was in a terrible financial crunch during the time that he painted this picture. In May of 1889, he wrote, “Business (since it always comes down to that) is catastrophic.”  The following year, he became disenchanted with pointillism, and abandoned Neo-Impressionism.

This painting is not one of Pissarro’s more familiar paintings. It has been included in only four exhibitions, the most recent one in Japan in 1990. But it demonstrates his amazing technical ability which literally pours the rigidity of pointillism into sheer poetry.

Pissarro cleverly uses pointilism’s dot to convey the multicolored autumn trees. But it is the overall composition which grabs our attention. The entire right side of the canvas is virtually “in our face,” filling the foreground with the windowless side of a house and a massive tree whose branches fill the canvas top. While we cling to the green embankment, we see the path extending around a curve to more houses and hills in the distance. The variegated sky adds a sense of uncertainty.

Clearly, this is not a painting we absorb in one glance–there is much to examine and ponder. Let’s hope that the City of Detroit will have time to reconsider “The Path” and that it will be included in future exhibitions shown around the world.

Information on Pissarro’s life and this painting is from Pissarro:Critical Catalogue by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts (2005).



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