Posts Tagged 'Impressionism'

PISSARRO AT THE MUSEE D’ORSAY IN PARIS–OF COURSE!

Bac à la Varenne-Saint-Hilaire 1864 Musee d'Orsay

Bac à la Varenne-Saint-Hilaire
1864
Musee d’Orsay

 

Today I was at the Orsay, and I counted 19 paintings by Camille Pissarro on view.  This is more than I remember at any other time. The Orsay has approximately 60 paintings by Pissarro, yet they generally have shown the same ones, usually less than 10. All of those were on display today, but there were many others which usually are not shown. 

The one shown above, Barge at La Vareen Saint-Hillaire, is unfamiliar to me and I suspect to most other Pissarro fans. It is a very early painting, 1864. made ten years before the first Impressionist Exhibition.  Already you can see that Pissarro was rebelling against the academic structure of the Salon. 

This painting is tiny by any measure, only 16.1 x 10.6 inches.  It would have never been able to complete with large Salon paintings and clearly was not meant to.  In fact, it was probably painting en plain air, on the actual site.  The paint is applied in thick brushstrokes, which are clearly visible—another push against academia which favored smooth finishes with invisible brushstrokes. The motif is a landscape, which depicts a very ordinary scene with people at their daily activities.  This also countered the Salon’s preference for paintings depicting history, myths, or important events.

The painting shows a barge crossing the Marne river, carrying a horse and carriage.  The river is obviously very still because we can see the reflections of the barge and its passengers in the water.  It may be the quiet before the storm given the dark clouds overhead. At the left is another smaller boat with its passengers either ready to depart or just landing.  On the opposite bank, we see the hill rising from the river with a town at its crest.

La Vareen Saint-Hillaire, southeast of Paris, is an old town on the Marne river. An abbey was established there in 639 AD, and in the 16th century, a castle was built. The ancient abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution. This painting was made in 1864, six years before the Franco-Prussian War which was particularly harsh on this little village.

This painting shows that even before the Impressionist movement, Pissarro was in the vanguard of opposition to the strictures of the Salon. He led the way toward new ways of seeing color and motifs and new painting techniques.

You can view the painting on the Orsay’s website at this website; however, their digital photo does not allow you to enlarge the photo very much for close examination. 

http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/index-of-works/resultat-collection.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5Bzoom%5D=0&tx_damzoom_pi1%5BxmlId%5D=000398&tx_damzoom_pi1%5Bback%5D=en%2Fcollections%2Findex-of-works%2Fresultat-collection.html%3Fno_cache%3D1%26zsz%3D9

A young artist studying Pissarro

A young artist studying Pissarro

Pissarro would love this little girl who was diligently copying one of his paintings.  He taught his own children to draw at an early age and most of them became artists whose paintings are in the collection of the Musee d’Orsay (though they are rarely if ever seen). To her credit, she chose an especially hard painting to reproduce. Since this was midway in her copy book, she probably has already worked on many other paintings.  (I wasn’t the only one attracted by her concentration. Without her knowledge, a circle of admiring adults were watching, taking pictures, but being careful not to interrupt her.)

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HELLO TO READERS

A few weeks ago, one European reader came on this blog and read 69 postings in one day!  Since I have no way to know who you are, I just want to say THANK YOU for your interest in Pissarro and for visiting this blog.  Many readers log on the blog and read several posts, and others perhaps come more often to check out what is new.

When I last checked the statistics, there were readers in more than 70 countries and on six continents. (I guess Antarctica does not have any Pissarro fans.) To all of you, sincere thanks for your interest in Pissarro and for reading this blog.

Some readers have told me that they had difficulty posting comments to the blog. The intricacies of this website are beyond me, but I would definitely like to hear from you. Here is an email address by which you can reach me directly. 

annsaul@pissarrosplaces.com

I would love to hear your comments.  If you would like me to post your comments, please let me know.  Otherwise, i will keep your remarks private.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Ann Saul

Author of PISSARRO’S PLACES

Blog:  artbookannex.com

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PISSARRO’S PLACES

The book is available at www.pissarrosplaces.com. There is a special discount available for those who visit the website.  It is also available on Amazon.

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.

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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 Exhibition Moves to Barcelona October 15!

The Hermitage Road at Pontoise, 1874 Musée d’Orsay, Paris   PDR349

The Hermitage Road at Pontoise, 1874
Musée d’Orsay, Paris PDR349

This charming landscape by Camille Pissarro was featured in the PISSARRO exhibition in Madrid.  Perhaps it will also be included at the CaixaForum in Barcelona when the PISSARRO exhibition opens there on October 15.

Some of Pissarro’s paintings look deceptively simple—and this is a perfect example! The top third of the canvas is filled with grayish clouds and the lower two-thirds are green fields. A horse and buggy provide a pleasant focal point just off center.

So how do you explain the intrinsic sense of movement, steady as a pulse, that drives the action in the painting. It is only paint on canvas, but you really believe that the buggy is moving forward at a brisk clip. You know that the man on the left will meet the two women walking towards him, and that the tiny buggy on the hillside road will soon disappear from sight.

Underlying these believable elements is a dramatic geometric form—a large lazy Z figure that appears on the horizon just left of center (look for the tiny buggy), makes a sharp angle around the three tall poplar trees, and almost disappears at the left foreground before it forms the bottom of the letter leading to the two women.  In a landscape that appears soft and curvy, this large Z is decidedly sharp and angular, dividing the fields into separate sections.

As if to heighten the excitement, Pissarro works each section in a different manner. Look closely at the space beneath the main road in the foreground. It is divided into four sections of grass, each of them different shades of green, and a small yellowish bridge.  The section between the bottom of the Z and the strong diagonal from left to right  includes six or seven different sections with small dark green trees at the top right edge of the canvas.  The section between the top of the Z and the diagonal is mostly a rosy beige with patches of green but is bordered on the left by darker green. A mysterious pale green band leads our eyes to the three tall poplars at the angle. The distant space above the second road going up the hill appears to be rocky fields defined by a narrow line of tiny green trees on the horizon. Even the sky seems to be doing its part, with the dark clouds scudding away quickly leaving lighter, brighter skies near the horizon.

All the movement is grounded by the prominent arch of the small bridge in the right lower corner of the canvas. It is reflected in the rocks just to the left highlighted by the small white arrow formed by the road’s surface. The stability of the view is also anchored by the presence of a herd of sheep with their shepherd far in the distance just above the woman’s white cap.

Pissarro’s paintings are often subtle. They don’t scream at you with clashing colors and jagged edges, but a careful look reveals many intricate features and very often surprises.

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PISSARRO’S PLACES,

the book about all the locations Pissarro painted,

 will be available in Barcelona at the CaixaForum bookstore.

www.pissarrosplaces.com

Sense the Quiet Pulse of the Earth

The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise, 1877 National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise, 1877
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

This painting is one of those in the PISSARRO exhibition in Madrid (previous post)—a serene landscape painted near Pontoise. Just right of center, a woman rides sidesaddle on a horse, leading us into the picture. The road, just a dirt lane through the fields,  intersects with a large road bordered by trees. Between the smaller trees, other haystacks are visible in the distance. On the large road at the left, another woman walks out of the painting.

This simple landscape, divided almost equally between land and sky, is actually quite complicated. The horizon line is slightly curved like the edge of the earth. With nothing to stop our gaze, it stretches on both sides into infinity. The small curved lane where the woman is riding is roughly perpendicular to the large road. To the left of the horse is a small green triangle that makes a line with a row of green cabbages on the other side, creating a curvy X. Not to be outdone, the sky is filled with “buttermilk” clouds interspersed with big puffs that hurry from left to right.

At first glance, the colors seem simple too—red, yellow, green, blue and white. But the fields on the right reveal a myriad of greens—some more yellow, others more blue—side by side. The fields on the left are plain except for dashes of red—perhaps a newly plowed field.

Filled with movement and life, this painting requires a very large canvas. It is, in fact, approximately 59 inches wide and 36 inches high. Though the scene is placid, we sense the quiet pulse of the earth.

You can see it in Madrid at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszo for a few more weeks. In October, the PISSARRO exhibition will move to CaixaForum in Barcelona.

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 PISSARRO’S PLACES, the book that explores all the sites painted by Pissarro, is now on sale at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszo. It will also be on sale in Barcelona at the CaixaForum in October.

See PISSARRO’S PLACES, the presentation

Philadelphia – Osher Lifetime Learning Institute on October 18

Chicago – Newberry International Research Library on October 23

To schedule a PISSARRO’S PLACES presentation for your organization, contact: Ann Saul at annsaul33@pissarrosplaces.com

 

 

INTRODUCING THE NEW PISSARRO PAINTING AT PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART

pmacropApple Tree in the Meadow, Eragny
1893 — PDR 995

This stunning painting, a gift to the museum from John C. Haas and Chara C. Haas, is part of a new exhibition called First Look: Collecting for Philadelphia, a selection of 125 pieces from more than 8500 works of art donated to PMA over the last five years.

At first glance, it seems to be a simple painting.  There is the obvious focal point, an apple tree in full leaf with perhaps a few blossoms left, suggesting early summer.  The bright blue sky is cloudless, rather unusual since most of the Eragny paintings made that summer have puffy white clouds. The brilliant sunlight fades the green of the grass in the meadow. It must have been a calm day—the tree shows no sign of wind or breezes.  Pissarro set his easel in the meadow facing the tall white fence that separates the house, and front garden from the orchard. This painting was made the year after the Pissarro family purchased the house at Eragny.

But very little with Pissarro is ever simple, and neither is this picture. The brilliant sunlight creates purple shadows making patterns on the ground. We do not know what caused the shadows—a typical Pissarro mystery. The painting consists of horizontal bands with a perpendicular tree trunk, but wait!  The right edges of those shadows create a strong diagonal line, and there’s more. Follow the diagonal of the roof line down through the thickest part of the tree to the small object in the right foreground. Another diagonal hidden in the elements of the painting! It appears that Pissarro put that object there just to complete the diagonal and give strength to the composition.  But what is that object?

detail crop

A short post, perhaps. The wall behind it is about six feet tall, so it couldn’t be more than two or three feet high. A very close look (see the detail) reveals characteristics of a figure. (For a reality check, I asked a friend what she saw, and she immediately answered, “a woman.”) In fact, the figure, painted with very few brush strokes appears to be a woman in a blue dress with a red and white kerchief on her hair, holding a basket. If so, she is a very small scale compared to other elements in the painting. Of course, she could be a small garden statue, though I would not expect one to look like a maid. We know why Pissarro put the object in that place (to complete the diagonal line), but we do not know what! It is just another of the many puzzles that can be found in Pissarro’s paintings.

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 You can see it for yourself on the PMA website: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/319041.html?mulR=5031|1.  In the lower right hand corner of the painting, click on the magnifying glass and you can study the details of the painting. Notice the tiny brushstrokes and the mixture of colors. When you zoom in on the object, press CTL and + at the same time to magnify it even more.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think it is!

Photos were taken by the author (with the museum guard’s permission and no flash) on my Iphone.

 

 

 

 

ON A DAY LIKE TODAY, FRENCH PAINTER CAMILLE PISSARRO WAS BORN

archive-191

THIS ARTICLE APPEARED TODAY IN THE ART DAILY NEWSLETTER.

July 10, 1830.- Camille Pissarro (10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903) was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas (now in the US Virgin Islands, but then in the Danish West Indies). His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Pissarro studied from great forerunners, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He later studied and worked alongside Georges Seurat and Paul Signac when he took on the Neo-Impressionist style at the age of 54. In this image: An unidentified visitor looks at an impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro called the Rue Saint-Honore apre-midi, Rue Saint-Honore Afternoon, Rain Effect, in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Thursday May 12, 2005.

The book PISSARRO’S PLACES is available in the bookstore of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

 

 

Why Did Pissarro Do This?

aa121

The Hills at l’Hermitage, Pointoise, c. 1867, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

PDR 121

 Always pushing the edge of creativity and inventiveness, Pissarro painted The Hills at L’Hermitage, Pontoise in 1867, seven years before the first Impressionist Exhibition. But it demonstrates all the elements of Impressionism—the light palette, a scene of everyday life, and depiction of the weather.

It is the largest painting ever made by Pissarro. Paul Durand-Ruel, his agent, bought the painting in March 1873 and sold it the same day to Jean-Baptiste Faure, a famous operatic baritone who sang in Paris and London.

The people in Pissarro’s paintings are integral to its composition, but they are not there to tell a story.  In fact, they often raise questions that have no answers. In this painting, a woman and little girl are talking to another woman. Most scholars agree that they are in fact Julie, the painter’s wife, and his daughter Minette. They are talking to a woman whose back is towards us, but we can see from her arms clasped behind her back that she has dark skin. This is especially noticeable because the skin of Julie and Minette are very light, almost pink.

Who is this dark-skinned woman?  Is she an African or a gypsy woman?  What is the conversation between these two women from obviously different backgrounds?  As provocative as this question may be, the women are just two small elements in the painting. The difference in skin-color is so subtle that it goes unnoticed by many viewers. When you remember that everything in a painting is due to the artist’s choice, you wonder why Pissarro raised this unanswerable question.

PISSARRO IN THE NEW BARNES MUSEUM IN PHILADELPHIA!

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).

YES….There are Pissarro Paintings at Pitti Palace in Florence

In a Kitchen Garden – PDR 558

Landscape Near Pontoise” – PDR 517

 

It seemed unlikely that Pissarro paintings would be in Florence, Italy. But there it was in the index of the Pissarro Critical Catalogue (Joachim Pissarro-Claire Durand-Ruel Snoellerts, 2005).

I had been to Pitti Palace before, but once again I was astounded by the opulence of the building and its furnishings. Upstairs in the Modern Gallery, I glanced in the side rooms, most of which were cordoned off with velvet ropes.  Inside one door was a small painting with familiar contours and shades of green.  It was Pissarro’s “Landscape Near Pontoise” (PDR 517). Just to the right and up higher, I thought I saw another Pissarro. I couldn’t be sure since there was a glare on the glass. I stood for a long time, straining my eyes but unable to really see either painting.

The guard was sitting in a nearby corner. I asked in my most courteous way if it would be possible to step just inside the door to see the Pissarros. “No,” polite but firm. Then I became desperate—how could I be so close and still not see them?  I poured out my heart….about studying Pissarro’s art for more than twenty years, writing a book about Pissarro, traveling all over the world (well, three continents) to see Pissarro paintings. She looked up from her book and said to me in English, “Wait.”

After a few minutes, she came back with a security guard, who as he approached me was already shaking his head no. He looked at me and I began my story again. I’ll never know if he understood what I said, but he obviously understood my longing.  “Just one minute,” he said as he lifted the velvet rope.

Inside, I had a perfect view of the landscape and was able to study the other painting, “In a Kitchen Garden” (PDR 558). The three of us—me and the two guards—stood there talking about how magnificent the paintings were. We attracted a small crowd drawn by the unusual event, so I had to go. But I had a good look at paintings that have probably been seen by very few people, compared to other Pissarro paintings in museums.

The Landscape was painted in 1877, and the Garden was painted in 1878, both of them while Pissarro was living in Pontoise. Both were painted after the Third Impressionist Exhibition in April 1877.  Both were purchased in Paris by the same man, Diego Martelli, an art critic from Florence, Italy and a friend of Degas. Martelli was a prominent supporter of the Macchiaioli, a group of Italian artists who painted in plein air and focused on light and color in much the same way as the French Impressionists.

Since Martelli took them home, the Pissarro paintings have never left Italy. Martelli loaned them both to an exhibition “Esposizione della Società di Incoraggiamento delle Belle Arti,” at the Pitti Palace in 1879. They were then bequeathed by Martelli to the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Since 1924, they have been in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna at the Pitti Palace.

They have been featured in exhibitions of French paintings in Florence, Rome and Venice. The Landscape was featured in exhibitions in Livorno and Reviso, and in 1997 it was included in an exhibition, “Camille Pissarro,” in Ferrara, Italy. It is little wonder that most of us have never seen these paintings. Though there was little opportunity to really study them, I am convinced that they are both superb examples of Pissarro’s work at the height of the Impressionist Movement.

The Definition of Impressionism

Factory on the Banks of the Oise, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône

1873 Williamstown (Mass) Clark Art Institute

 PDR 300

 One warm spring day, Pissarro took his easel to the banks of the Oise River and made a painting that is archetypical of the Impressionist movement. It contains nearly all of the characteristics commonly associated with the Impressionist style: the lavish portrayal of sunlight; the consciousness of the changing weather as grey clouds crowd the intense blue sky; the presence of modernity in the new factories lining the bank of the Oise River; and the immediacy of the scene which bespeaks en plein air painting.

The painting itself has a classic composition divided almost equally between the sky and the earth with the river dwindling away on the right side. The water, still as a mirror, reflects the smokestacks and buildings on the other side and connects them with the freshness of the spring flowers in the right foreground. The factory, a distillery, had just been completed in 1872. The white building with the small smokestack is still there along with a few of the small buildings.

 

 



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