Archive for November, 2019

Pissarro, Le Causette- The Wrightsman Bequest

#Pissarro #MetropolitanMuseumofArt #WrightsmanBequest #Pointillism #FigurePainting #1891-92 #AbstractPissarro

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Le Causette (The Chat), 1891-92, Metropolitan Museum of Art, PDRS 912

Le Causette (1891-92) [PDRS 912] is one of the paintings listed in the recent announcement of the bequest of Charles and Jayne Wrightsman to the Metropolitan Museum of Art­ in New York. This painting, given to the museum in 1973, is frequently on view with other Pissarro paintings at the museum.

One of Pissarro’s loveliest figure paintings, it features two women resting from their work in the fields. What might have been a traditional motif becomes a distinctly modern composition under Pissarro’s brush. Instead of giving the two women equal status, he places one in the lower left corner while the other stands some distance away. Their gaze implies intimacy, but the space between them is empty with only pink earth in the background. The painting is replete with diagonals: the back and head of the woman on the left continue upward in the line of trees to the edge of the field. The standing woman leans forward in an opposing diagonal that would meet beyond the top of the canvas. At her back are diagonal rows of plants. The horizonal pink and green stripes immediately behind the two women secure the composition and attempt to hold the eye in the foreground.

Though Pissarro had moved away from pointillism by 1891, he modified the technique to create the luminous colors especially evident in the blouses of the two women. On the left, he uses various touches of blue, white, and pink and on the right, darker shades of blue with a touch of light orange. The colors of the earth between them range from lavender to salmon, and from coral to yellow.

While other artists created pictures that told or suggested stories, Pissarro usually avoided this practice. There is no indication on the faces of the two women of any emotion that would suggest a narrative, and while this painting has caused some to suggest a psychological incident, there is nothing in Pissarro’s painting to support it. It is, quite simply, an exquisite painting.



Remembering Camille Pissarro–Looking Closely

#Pissarro #Impressionism #AbstractPissarro #Gauguin #Sotheby’s #Originality #Art #Visiblebrushstrokes #Landscapes #Unconventional #Haystacks #

718 Landscape with Haystacks 1883 copy

As we celebrate the life and extraordinary art of Camille Pissarro on this day, we are challenged to take a new and fresh look at his work. For Pissarro, art demanded no less than the “whiplash of originality,” (his words).1 The paintings we see most often and remember are frequently those that conform with our idea of Impressionism. But Pissarro was not bound by any rules or standards. Even while he was inventing Impressionism, he was investigating techniques unthinkable at that time—no narrative, no focal point, lack of perspective, visible brushstrokes, flattened structures, and nontraditional composition.

His painting, Landscape with Haystacks, Osny, 1883 [PDRS 718], shows how Pissarro looked at an ordinary motif and created an unconventional painting that defies tradition with its tightly woven brushstrokes in colors almost Fauvist, nearly unrecognizable forms that seem to melt into the background, and the opposition of sharp diagonal lines. Truly, a masterpiece, radical for its time and even now.

His genius was not lost on Paul Gauguin, who according to Sotheby’s,2 was the first owner of the painting. Sotheby’s also points out that this painting by Pissarro foreshadows Monet’s haystacks painted in 1891, which are more traditional in composition and execution.

To properly honor Pissarro, we must look closely at all of his works, not just those easy to understand, and appreciate the immensity of his creativity and inventiveness. There is much more to be learned from Camille Pissarro.

 1 John Rewald, ed., Camille Pissarro: Letters to His Son Lucien, p. 323.

2 Sotheby’s website:



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