The Musée d’Orsay recently opened a mini-exhibition of Camille Pissarro landscapes and drawings in Chamber 69 on the second floor just above the sculptures.
The room includes four oil paintings and six small gauches, watercolors and drawings. Three of the paintings are seldom seen in Pissarro exhibitions. These works combined with the nearly 20 paintings hanging in the Impressionist gallery provide a wealth of Pissarro works on view.
Most outstanding of the paintings is a large masterwork depicting the Lavoir of Bazincourt. Bazincourt, a small village across the Epte River from Eragny, is seen in many of Pissarro’s later paintings. This painting is breathtakingly beautiful in person. Photographs are a very poor reflection of the painting’s luminosity.
Pissarro made this painting in 1900 during a midsummer day. The trees are full of leaves, a rich bright green. The lavoir is almost in the center of the painting, and in the foreground is the clear water of the little river. The deep green shadows of the trees draw you into the painting, and you almost feel the cool breeze creating the ripples in the water. The influence of pointillism is clear in this painting with Pissarro’s many small brushstrokes, mere touches of color to the canvas.
This old postcard shows a close-up view of a different lavoir on the Eragny side of the Epte River. In the 19th century, women washed their laundry in the small river, and these sheds (lavoirs) provided some shelter for this task. Many lavoirs have been preserved throughout Normandy, including one on the Epte River at Giverny.
I cannot resist sharing my favorite photo of the Epte River, actually taken from a newer bridge Eragny, which shows how beautiful this part of the river is. The water is still as clear and cool (probably clearer since no one does laundry in it anymore). This is not the same view as Pissarro’s painting, but it portrays the same feeling.
If you find yourself in Paris, be sure to see all the Pissarro paintings in the Impressionist galleries at the Orsay and search out the small Pissarro exhibition in the PostImpressionist section.
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Special thanks to the person from Italy who read ten or more posts to this blog the other day. It is so interesting to see that Pissarro’s fans are all over the world. If you would like to respond to this blog, please feel free to email me. Emails will be kept confidential.
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PISSARRO’S PLACES, the book about the locations where Pissarro made his greatest paintings is still available on amazon.com and at the book’s website: www.pissarrosplaces.com. Those who visit the website can receive a special reader’s discount.