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.
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.
* * * * *
is available on the website:
or at Amazon.
There is a special discount for
friends who visit the website.