Archive for May, 2020

PISSARRO at Musée d’Orsay

#Pissarro #CamillePissarro #Museed’Orsay #Moret #GeorgesPissarro #Sisley #Impressionism #abstract #abstractpissarro #pissarrosplaces #Loingriver #Loingcanal #art #1899 #1902 #Bridgeandprintingplant

1434 The Loing Canal, Moret 1902

The Loing Canal, Moret, 1902, Musée d’Orsay, PDRS 1434

Pissarro painted this lovely summer scene during a visit to Moret in 1902. It was the third time he visited his son Georges in the small village a little more than 50 miles south of Paris. His first visit was in November 1899 when Georges settled there. His son wrote him: “You know, if you want to come to Moret to do some studies, there’s plenty of room, it’s a big house. . . .there’s a little raised garden on a rampart right on the edge of the river, with a lovely view of poplar trees reflected in the Loing. Without even leaving the garden we’re smack in the midst of wonderful motifs.” * While he made no paintings during that first visit, he returned in the spring of 1901 and made seven paintings.

The following year from mid-May to mid-June, Pissarro went back to Moret for a visit with Georges and made twelve paintings. For much of that visit, the weather according to Pissarro was “wretched,” but he made three interiors featuring people of the village. He took full advantage of good weather during the latter part of his visit, finishing nine landscapes, including this one. For this painting, he set his easel beside a canal near the Loing river built to facilitate barge traffic. This painting recalls the Impressionist tradition which Pissarro helped to establish in the early 1870s with its picturesque motif. The large trees on the left frame the picture with their branches creating reflections in the water. It almost seems like a remembrance of paintings by Alfred Sisley, the Impressionist painter who made his home in Moret for more than two decades and painted so many of its lovely views before his death in 1899.

1432 The Bridge and the Printing Plant, Moret 1902

The Bridge and the Printing Plant, Moret, 1902, Private collection, PDRS 1432

While Pissarro may have gone back to his Impressionist roots for that painting, he could not resist applying his abstract vision on others. The second painting, The Bridge and the Printing Plant, Moret, displays his advanced techniques. The buildings are simply blocks of color, totally flat with no apparent volume. The clouds are mere stabs of the paintbrush loaded with blue-grey or white paint. The trees are constructed of tiny diagonal strips in various shades of green. Instead of typical reflections, rough white brushstrokes streak across the water. Separating the white strokes is a narrow strip of yellow, there for no apparent reason other than that it is complementary to the lavender hue of the water. While the first painting of the canal is beautiful and a reminder of lovely summer days, this one is much more interesting than the one in the Orsay—and typical of Pissarro at his best in near abstract expression.

*Pissarro: Critical Catalogue (Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, 2005)


books on Pissarro’s paintings, are available online

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PISSARRO at the Hermitage

#Pissarro #CamillePissarro #Hermitage #StateHermitageMuseum #StPetersburg #BoulevardMontmartre #Frenchart #Impressionism #ParisSalon #Grandjean #ChampsElysees #BeauxArts #Paris #DurandRuel #abstract #academicart #Haussmann #abstractpissarro #pissarrosplaces

1165 Blvd. Montmartre 2

Boulevard Montmartre, Afternoon, 1897, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, PDRS 1165

One of the world’s great museums, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia is home to an extensive collection of French art.  It is odd, therefore, that they only have two paintings by Camille Pissarro. One of those, Place du Théâtre-Français, the Omnibuses, Spring, Sunlight (1898) [PDRS 1209], was the subject of the previous post.

The other one, Boulevard Montmartre, Afternoon (1897) [PDRS 1165], was made the previous year when Pissarro stayed at the Grand Hôtel de Russie from February 8 to April 25, 1897. His dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, bought 12 of the 16 paintings he made during that time, including this one.

He described the view from his window: “I can see down the whole length of the boulevards clear to the porte Saint-Denis, or nearly, at any rate all the way to the boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle.”* There is nothing of importance in the view—no great monument or imposing building. All of the new Haussmann apartments look the same. The drama is in Pissarro’s depiction of activity—omnibuses and carriages vying for space on the busy street, pedestrians crowding the sidewalks. The viewer is swept up and pulled along into the dense congestion. Everything on the sidelines becomes virtually abstract.

Pissarro’s scenes of Paris streets are so familiar that it is easy to forget how radical they were at the time—the loose brushstrokes capturing a horse in two quick strokes, mere dots of color for windows, white circular motions suggesting clouds.

Another Hermitage painting of a Paris street demonstrates the vast difference in Pissarro’s style and what art viewers of that day were accustomed to seeing. Edmond Grandjean (1844-1908) made his painting, View of the Champs-Elysées from the Place de l’Etoile, in 1878. Born in Paris, Grandjean studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. His paintings were exhibited frequently at the Paris Salon from 1865-1906.

Grandjean, Edmond 1878

Edmond Grandjean, View of the Champs-Élysées from the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, 1878

This painting is an excellent example of what Salon paintings looked like—and exactly what Pissarro was fighting against.  It is almost photographic in its accuracy. Instead of colored blobs, the windows look as if they were carefully measured and squared. Grandjean was known for his depiction of horses, and even though they are small, the musculature in these horses is precise. Even the spokes of the wheels on carriages are delineated. The tiny people on the omnibuses are carefully modeled and costumed. This amount of details makes the painting look static, frozen in time. The book French Art Treasures at the Hermitage (Albert Kostenevich) says that this painting is “reminiscent of an illustration from a fashion journal transposed to a panorama: such pictures were extremely popular in the second half of the nineteenth century.” Compared to the Pissarro painting, this one looks like a picture on an old-fashioned tin candy box, with none of the life and vitality of the Pissarro. No wonder Pissarro’s paintings continue to fascinate and intrigue viewers after all these years.

*Pissarro: Critical Catalogue (2005)


books on Pissarro’s paintings, are available online

at, AbeBooks,

Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.



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