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.