Piette’s House at Montfoucault, Effect of Snow 1874
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
Camille Pissarro and his family spent the winter of 1874-75 at Montfoucault, the home of his friend and fellow artist Piette Ludovic and his wife Adèle. This beautiful place is nestled among the hills and forests of the Pays de la Loire, just 12 miles north of the town of Mayenne. Here he stood in the snow with his canvas and captured the winter wonderland around him.
Layers of snow weigh heavy on the dark green branches of the large evergreen trees by the gate and in the foreground. While the entire scene appears to be white snow, a closer look reveals that the white is a multitude of pale blue and peach tints. Behind the gate, the yellowish stone of the large house is the only large block of warm color in the painting, suggesting the warmth inside.
Overhead the clouds are heavy in the darkening sky. White brush strokes in the sky reveal darker blue gray underneath, and unite the winter sky with the snow on the ground. The overall effect is of the threat of more snow and numbing cold. Pissarro’s nose and fingers must have been freezing.