Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Here is an interesting perspective as noted in Art Daily of March 12 (See URL below for the whole story):
Camille Pissarro, Art and art books
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Here is an interesting perspective as noted in Art Daily of March 12 (See URL below for the whole story):
One of our readers requested more information about the Pissarro exhibition at Le Havre. Here you are. For more details: http://www.normandie-impressionniste.eu/node/6
Pissarro and the Ports – Rouen, Dieppe, Le Havre
Musée d’Art moderne André Malraux – Le Havre
27 April–29 September 2013
“The full dimension of the port motif was realized by Camille Pissarro in an important series of three Norman ports, Rouen, Dieppe and Le Havre, that he worked on between 1883 and 1903.
“The exhibition “Pissarro in the Ports” will bring together for the first time thirty or so of these works, most of which have been loaned from public and private collections abroad. Works by Eugène Boudin and Maxime Maufra will complement the set. The exhibition will end with works that are almost contemporary with those of Pissarro, and demonstrate the extent of the rupture that occurred in painting in the first years of the twentieth century.”
Musée d’art moderne André Malraux
2 Boulevard Clemenceau
76 600 Le Havre
Le Havre is reached easily by car or by a short train ride from Paris or Rouen. See www.sncf.com/en/passengers for more information.
How will this painting* look in PISSARRO’S PLACES?
We’re not sure…..Here’s why….
Camille Pissarro constantly pushed the limits of painting and embraced most things modern (except the Eiffel Tower). So I think he would approve of this.
PISSARRO’S PLACES will be the first book with fine art reproductions to be produced by the digital “PRINT ON DEMAND” production technique. (Based on checks with industry executives) It includes:
35 reproductions of Pissarro paintings
46 current photographs of the places he painted
29 historic postcards
Several family photographs and a few historic photos of Paris
Traditional publishers would not take on this 150-page book because it might not be profitable in today’s business environment. Self-publishing is the solution—for many authors in all categories.
My publisher is Art Book Annex—that’s right, my blog is publishing my book in print! Thankfully, my public relations background left me with decades of experience working with editors, designers and printers. PISSARRO’S PLACES has been professionally edited and professionally designed.
The printing will be done by Lightning Source, a company of Ingram Content Group, the world’s largest and most trusted distributor of physical and digital content. They provide books, music and media content to over 38,000 retailers, libraries, schools and distribution partners in 195 countries and work with more than 25,000 publishers.
Lightning Source provides digital print production, also called “Print on Demand,” which means that using the computer files I supply to them, they can print any number of copies as they are needed—even just one copy.
The risk lies in the quality of the reproductions. This new technique is nothing like the complicated printing used for exhibition catalogues, and the paper will not be heavy and shiny. But I’ve examined their sample books with photography and illustrations, and I’ve consulted with design and printing experts. We believe it will work.
Stay tuned, and hear the results when I get the first proof!!
*This beautiful painting is Factory on the Banks of the Oise, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, painted by Pissarro in 1873. It can be seen at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, PA. The catalogue raisonne number is PDR 300. It will be in the chapter on Pontoise in PISSARRO’S PLACES.
Rue de Gisors, Effect of Snow, Pontoise, 1873
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA PDR* 284
The overnight snowfall was still evident as Pissarro set up his easel on the side of the road. Just to the right of the two-wheeled cart, we can easily see the corner of the street where Pissarro lived.
The people of the village are busy with their daily errands as a woman sweeps snow off the sidewalk. Pissarro gives us an accurate sense of the gentle downward slope of the road with the decreasing levels of the rooftops. Even though the dominant colors of the painting are warm pinks and mauves, the cold crispness of the air suggested by the white snow on the roofs is intense.
This scene has hardly changed at all since Pissarro painted it. The pink building now has three stories, but the smaller buildings on that side are still the same and the tall angled roof is still there although it does not seem nearly as high as he portrayed it.
This painting is one of 30 featured in the upcoming book,
*PDR refers to the number assigned to this painting in Pissarro:Critical Catalogue by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Shollaerts (2005).
At first glance, this painting seems to be more characteristic of Vermeer than Pissarro. The only source of light is the small unadorned window set deep into the wall. The illumination is bright as a spotlight, casting dark shadows on the floor. However, most of the women in Vermeer’s paintings were nicely dressed and lived in well-appointed surroundings. In contrast, Pissarro paints an old peasant woman, an apron over her full skirt and a scarf on her head. Vermeer’s subjects are busy doing something–reading a letter, holding a balance. Pissarro’s subject sits quietly in the straight wooden chair, hands folded in her lap. How did this strange Pissarro painting come to be?
When Camille Pissarro went to visit his son Georges in 1902 at Moret-sur-Loing, just south of Paris, he hoped to paint outdoors. However, that May was unusually rainy and he decided to work indoors. As he wrote his wife Julie, “It’s been windy, cold, and rainy ever since I arrived… but in spite of this setback, I have some reason to be pleased with my work. I found some peasants—two women and an old man who were willing to pose for me at their place.”
The people had been wine growers until a disease wiped out all the vineyards around Moret and left them in poverty. Pissarro painted the old man sitting at the same table, an opened bottle of wine in front of him. Thankfully for Pissarro, the rain went away and he painted some of his most beautiful landscapes of the bridge and printing plant on the Loing River. These sites were also painted by another Impressionist, Alfred Sisley, who lived in Moret until his death in 1899, two years before Pissarro’s first visit to Moret in 1901.
Information and the quote from Pissarro’s letter are from Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings (2005) by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts.
Many thanks to the Satalof family for spotting this Pissarro at Monserrat last summer and bringing it to my attention.
The Garden de Maubuisson, Pontoise, Sunshine 1876
Philadelphia (PA) The Barnes Foundation PDR 440
Tucked in among the largest collection of Renoirs in the world andkeeping company with an enormous group of Cezannes is one painting by Camille Pissarro. Dr. Alfred C. Barnes, a medical doctor who made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry, became interested in collecting the art of his time. According to the film at the Barnes Foundation, he sent his good friend and prominent Philadelphia artist (member of “The Eight”), William Glackens to Paris with $20,000 to buy paintings to begin his collection. This Pissarro was one of the 20 paintings that Glackens broughtback.
Camille Pissarro painted this garden scene in the Hermitage neighborhood of Pontoise in 1876. Even today, it seems every home in the Hermitage has its own kitchen garden or orchard stretching down the hill behind the house. It looks like Pissarro set up his easel at the bottom of the hill and allowed the roofs of the houses to describe the hill’s steep incline. The colors in the painting are a textbook example of Impressionism. The lush greens of the vegetable plots in the foreground transition to yellow green of the leaves and then to the rich turquoise of the sky. The peachy pathways reflect the red roofs on the hill.
At first glance, the composition seems to be perfectly symmetrical—something Pissarro rarely did. (It’s a mistake to say never about anything involving Pissarro since he frequently surprises you.)
The vertical path leads us to the focal point, an upright stone with two large stones at its base. A womanin a white hat stands to the side. Rows of small trees (probably apple or pear trees) on each side lead straight back to the upright object and they are flanked by two rectangular green patches. But wait! If this is truly symmetrical, wouldn’t the focal point be in the center of the canvas? In fact, it is just to the left of center, creating an interesting tension and lifting the composition out of the ordinary.
Now you can see this gorgeous Pissarro in the Barnes Foundation collection. But if you go, be aware that the Barnes REQUIRES RESERVATIONS –available by phone or online. Check their website for full information (click on the link above).
Cows Watering in the Pond at Montfoucault 1875
Birmingham (UK) Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham PDR 428
Montfoucault was Pissarro’s refuge, his safe haven. The large country estate in the Mayenne, home of Pissarro’s artist friend Ludovic Piette, was the place where Pissarro could take his family in times of trouble and need. He made five visits there painting the secluded countryside in springtime, fall and winter.
This autumn painting features a small herd of cows drinking at the edge of the pond, tended by a peasant woman. The bucolic scene is framed by the large forked tree on the left and another big tree on the right. We can almost feel the warmth of the autumn sun that reflects on the backs of the three red cows. The space is shared by a flock of geese bathing in the pond’s center. This version was painted on site, but it became the model for another larger painting completed later the same year in Pissarro’s studio.
Below is a photograph of Pissarro’s pond taken on a sunny spring day. Beside it is a large plaque, one of twelve erected at Montfoucault by the nearby town of Lassay les Chateaux. You can walk around the estate and see similar plaques showing the sites of paintings by Piette and Pissarro, including Piette’s home and nearby fields and pastures. (The tourist office in Lassay les Chateaux will give you directions to Montfoucault.)
Pond at Montfoucault [Photo by Paul Climance)
While you are in Lassay les Chateaux, take time to see the largest historic chateau, originally built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 14th century after destruction during the Hundred Years War. It still has its eight massive towers, ramparts, barbican and a working drawbridge. [http://www.lassay.co.uk/] [http://www.tourisme.fr/office-de-tourisme/lassay-les-chateaux.htm] The photos are by Paul Climance, local historian in Lassay-les-Chateaux.
Medieval chateau at Lassay-les-Chateaux [Photo by Paul Climance]
Misty Morning at Creil, 1873 Camille Pissarro
Pissarro used realistic elements to create scenes that now appear almost abstract, as demonstrated by the comparison of Misty Morning at Creil, 1873, with Rothko’s Untitled, 1969. Certainly color field paintings were unimaginable in the vocabulary of the Impressionists, but from the current post-abstract perspective, the similarities in the two paintings are apparent.
Untitled, 1969 Mark Rothko
The simple reading of the Pissarro painting is that of a common landscape, depicting a condition of weather. All of the Impressionists were interested in portraying various types of weather on the canvas, and many of them painted fog or mist in scenes similar to Pissarro’s. However, most of these artists provided some kind of recognizable focal point to draw the eye.
In Misty Morning, the eye searches for an important focal point, and settles instead on the complementary contrast of the sky and land, two distinct color fields. The dusty blue sky with orange-shaded undertones is surprisingly similar to the top of the Rothko, which is also a dusty blue with shades of orange peeking through the brushstrokes.
The lower half of the Pissarro is not a solid color field like that of the Rothko, but the overall impression is similar. In the foreground, Pissarro uses the orange-shaded color to depict the muddy ground. Near the crest of the hill, a silvery white frost covers the ground creating an effect similar to that in the lower half of the Rothko.
The elements that add realism and set the Pissarro apart from the Rothko are the images on the horizon. Just right of center is a dark blotch that represents several trees along with shadowy figures. In the center left is another shadowy tree image. While a landscape by another artist might use these figures as a focal point, Pissarro makes them dissolve into the background. The trees are dark blue and the covering mist erases any detail of structure that might grab the eye’s attention. Instead, the trees serve as a simple division between the contrasting colors of the sky and ground.
The use of human figures tends to draw the eye, but here Pissarro has minimized their importance. The color of the woman’s upper garment blends with the trees while her skirt is the same color as the ground. The man is practically invisible, with a cap the color of the trees and clothing that fades into the background. There may or may not be another shadowy figure farther up the hill.
The obvious effort that Pissarro made to blend the people and trees into the background suggests that they are not to be considered focal points. The obvious point of interest is the complementary contrast between the sky and ground, two color fields only slightly more complicated than those depicted in the Rothko painting.
One might say that Pissarro just painted the scene as he saw it, and that he did not “intentionally” paint something that today can be compared to Rothko’s color fields. While Pissarro would not have used the same vocabulary, he certainly was striving for different effects throughout his career. To accept the obvious in his paintings is to miss the point of his work. It is only on close scrutiny that his genius is recognized.
Quai de Paris and the Pont Corneille, Rouen, Sunshine
1883, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PDR 727
Pissarro’s paintings often leave us with unanswered questions; that’s part of the allure of his artistry. We might not notice the shining arch on the left over the bridge if the sail of the red boat did not point to it. In reality, it is not what it seems or what we might imagine.
There’s plenty to look at in this sun-drenched painting made by Pissarro in the fall of 1883 during his first painting expedition to Rouen. During this visit, he walked to his locations on both sides of the Seine, carrying his easel on his back. He wrote his son Lucien, “I began a motif on the edge of the river [actually the quai de Paris on the right bank] moving up towards the church of Saint-Paul; looking towards Rouen, you have on the right all the houses on the quays lit up by the morning sun, in the background the pont de Pierre (Pont Corneille), on the left the island [the Île Lacroix] with its houses, factories, boats, rowing-boats on the right, a cluster of big barges of all colours.”
The right lower quadrant of this painting is filled with heavy objects–buildings and barges. The rest of the painting is dominated by the lightness of sky and water. Yet the painting feels perfectly balanced. That’s the genius of Pissarro.
We are standing on the quai, along with two men at the canvas’s right edge. Our eyes follow the sweeping curve of the riverside to the buildings and back across the bridge. Just before we reach the other side, this shining thing appears. It’s not part of the clouds—its white is completely different from the darker clouds behind it. It looks like an apparition, but we know of Pissarro’s distaste for symbolism.
The truth became clear in 2010 at the superb exhibition, A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro and Gauguin, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen that included this painting. The bridge Pissarro painted is Pont Corneille, which connected Rouen with Saint-Sever, the town across the river. At that time, there was a suspension bridge upriver from Pont Corneille. Built in 1836, it was called the “wire bridge” because of the fragile appearance of its cables. While the bridge itself was not visible from Pissarro’s location, the shiny arch that supported the bridge’s cables rose above the level of Pont Corneille. In this case, Pissarro was painting exactly what he saw. The historic photograph below shows the “wire bridge” with its arch.
Pissarro made three more paintings from that location during this visit, but the shining arch is barely noticeable. Did he feel it was a distraction? He probably continued to paint what he saw. However, the skies in the other paintings are filled with clouds, allowing for little reflection on the shining object.
The shining arch disappeared before Pissarro’s next painting excursion to Rouen thirteen years later. The old suspension bridge was replaced by a new iron bridge, Pont Boieldieu in 1888. Pissarro painted the new Pont Boieldieu as many as 16 times during his next three visits to Rouen. It stood until June 1940, when it was destroyed by the French Army to slow the advance of German troops. The current Pont Boieldieu was finally opened in 1955.
[Photo from collection of the author]
Resources: Pissarro: Critical Catalog (2005) Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Shoellaerts
A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro and Gauguin (2010) Exhibition catalog
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