Posts Tagged 'Rue de Gisors'


Rue de Gisors - 1868 Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria PDR 127

Rue de Gisors – 1868
Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria PDR 127


Pissarro made several paintings on the Rue de Gisors in Pontoise, but this one is unlike any of the others.  He painted it during his first stay in Pontoise before the beginnings of Impressionism.

The paintings he made of this street after the Franco-Prussian war show a different part of the street, a high traffic area looking towards the center of town.  This view appears to be the other end the street, looking toward a faraway hill.  At this point, he was still using black in his paintings, as shown by the woman in the black dress on the left. The colors appear to be dark, but this may be simply the an accumulation of residue from more than a hundred years ago.

This painting is one of the few surviving paintings made by Pissarro that date before 1872, the end of the Franco-Prussian War.  During 1870-71, Pissarro fled with his family, first to Brittany and then to London, where he stayed until the war was over.  While he was gone, his home in Louveciennes was used by Prussian soldiers to house their horses and soldiers. They used his canvases to butcher animals and to cover mud in the garden. At that time, he was in his early 40s, and nearly all of his life’s work was destroyed.  Only about 30 paintings survive from those early days.

This painting provides a special insight into Pissarro’s art before Impressionism. I had a chance to see this painting recently in Vienna and here is a little bit of what I learned. His painting was already radical. The composition focuses on the wide cobblestone street with walkways on either side which appears to go downhill. The buildings on the right side of the street are typical and are very much like buildings on that street today. It is the left side of the composition that is so curious. Beside the road on the left is a tiny house partially hidden behind a row of slender trees. In photographs, it is difficult to see the roofline behind the trees, but in person, it is barely visible. To the left is an open space showing sky and then a tiny sliver of another building. If the little trees had been on the left edge of the canvas, the composition would have looked very ordinary. As it is, your attention is drawn to the empty space instead. Other people in the painting seem to be doing something or going somewhere, but the mysterious woman in the black dress is just standing there on the grass. We might not notice her except for the white ruffle on her dress.

There is much more in this painting that is radical for its time, and I will write more about it in another post.

Pontoise in the Snow as Pissarro Saw It

Rue de Gisors

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.

Rue de Gisors today

 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).








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