Archive for the 'Art' Category


2030 marks the 200th birthday of Camille Pissarro (1830–1903). To properly recognize those who contribute new research and insight about Pissarro and his œuvre, a bibliography of all published and unpublished works from the year 2000 to the present is being created. The goal is to encourage research and to share this work with a broader audience whenever possible. If you have published an article, book, review of an exhibition or book; if you have given a lecture or presentation; or if you have a thesis or dissertation on Camille Pissarro which is unpublished, please submit information for inclusion in the bibliography. Please include: author(s), title, journal and date or book publisher and date, video URL, and any additional information along with your name and email address. Please share this request with anyone else who may have written about Camille Pissarro. Send your responses to Ann Saul at Thank you.


PISSARRO: In Paris – A New Look

The Pont-Royal and the Pavilon de Flore, Overcast Sky, 1903
Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, PDRS 1493
The Pont-Royal and the Pavilon de Flore, Overcast Sky, 1903, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, PDRS 1493

In November 1902 when Pissarro returned to his apartment at 28 Place Dauphine in Paris, he knew he needed new motifs. “I can’t do the same Pont Neuf motifs yet again, I still have a year to go on the rue Dauphine flat, it’s a bit of a problem.”[1] As always, he came up with a solution and rented a room to use as a studio at the Hotel du Quai Voltaire from March to May of 1903. From his third-floor room, #32, he could see the Louvre, “the Pont Royal and the Pont du Carrousel, as well as the houses strung out along the quai Malaquais with the Institut [de France] and to the left, the retreating banks of the Seine, motifs where the light is magnificent,”[2] as he wrote his son Lucien.

Hotel du Quai Voltaire a few years ago; photo by author

Composing this painting, Pissarro looked slightly to his left including the Pont-Royal, a 17th century stone bridge, and the Pavillon de Flore of the Louvre. The overcast sky gives the ancient stone of the bridge a silvery look and softens the reflections in the deep blue-green water. A small boat glides silently by as the Seine flows peacefully through the four arches. In the distance are rows of tiny houses on the Rue de Rivoli, where Pissarro lived during previous winters in Paris. Because of the cloudy sky, it is impossible to tell if it is morning or afternoon, but it is an unusually quiet time on the Seine, which was then and continues to be a working river filled with boat traffic.

Photo of the motif a few years ago. by the author

Pissarro used the street level of the bridge to divide the canvas almost perfectly into top and bottom, with the right end just slightly lower than center. The Louvre creates a strong perpendicular at the right, and on the left, a barge makes an acute angle with the bridge. The only dark areas are the showy undersides of the four arches which create sideways “commas” across the canvas in circular contrast to all the lines and angles. The misty clouds create slight angles opposing the diagonal of the barge.  The large tree on the left gives balance to the heaviness of the massive building on the right. It seems to have no trunk at the bottom, but perhaps it is blocked by the stalls of the bouquinistes (booksellers) on Quai Voltaire. Pissarro pictured their stalls and people shopping in another painting with a similar view.

The Pont-Royal, Afternoon, Spring, 1903, Private collection, PDRS 1496

Later that year in August, Pissarro sent that painting and another one of the Pont Royal to an exhibition in Dieppe. An art critic wrote, “To a master all honours are due,” and after describing the two paintings, he concluded, “And all of this rendered with the prodigious mastery and stunning technique that characterize this wonderful artist: a rich impasto, a great sensitivity to colours, a tonal harmony, a depth and an atmosphere one never tires of marvelling at.”[3]

[1] Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings, 3 vols. (Milan: Skira Editore S.p.A., 2005). III:894.

[2] Ibid. I:313.

[3] Ibid. III: 903-4.

I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Visit my website for more information on Pissarro and my books:

Camille Pissarro – His 192nd Birthday

The Red House, Portland (Ore.) Art Museum, 1873, PDRS 307

This bright summer day was captured by Pissarro after he moved back to Pontoise following the Franco-Prussian War. He had painted scenes of the Oise river, roads around Pontoise, and even the nearby railway crossing. But this painting shows nothing of great scenic interest—just fields with a couple of (probably new) houses near town.

Its great appeal comes from the brilliant harmony of color and composition. The calm blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds provides cooling to the yellow and light green fields below where the heat of summer midday is almost palpable. The foreground, a mélange of dark gold and yellow, is dotted with red blossoms boosting the temperature. Just above is a large triangular area of pale green with touches of medium green, reflecting the strong sunlight. Relief comes in the center of the painting with a large tree whose triangular crown promises coolness. Two horses rest from their labors in the dark green shade.

Why would Pissarro place a simple tree, albeit a lovely one, in the exact center of the canvas? He seemed to enjoy doing the exact opposite of what was expected by academic artists, who had taught for generations that paintings should provide an important focal point, generally in the center. This painting has no central focal point at all. The tree is not important enough to hold the viewer’s attention, and which house is more important? Neither are large chateaux or important landmarks. And the golden yellow grass in the foreground relentlessly pulls the eye away from the horizon. If this painting were described in contemporary terms, it would be an “all over” painting, which forces the eye to move around the canvas providing no resting place.

New houses were being built on the outskirts of Pontoise during this time, and these two may have been among those. Pissarro adds to the symmetry of the painting by placing them equal distance from the centered tree. Rather than provide details of the modern cottages, he presents them as flat blocks of color, with black rectangles for doors and windows. While the red roof on the left adds intensity to the heat, it complements the dark green of the trees.

This painting was owned by Jean-Baptiste Faure, a famous opera singer who supported the Impressionists. His collection in 1902 including twenty-four paintings by Pissarro.[1]

Pissarro was 43 when he painted this summer day in France, and he knew a thing or two about heat and intense sunlight. After all, he was born on July 10, 1830 in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas where the heat of the summer sun is a given.

[1] Kathryn Rothkopf, Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape (Baltimore: The Baltimore Museum of Art, 2007), 170.

Look for this marvelous new film about Pissarro, which covers the two recent exhibitions at the Kunstmuseum, Basel and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Here’s the link to the trailer:

( Remove the ( ) to get the link. This website would not print the link as it should.

I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Visit my website for more information on Pissarro and my books:

Pissarro: Winter Snow

Rue de Gisors, Effect of Snow, Pontoise, 1873, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, PDRS 284

It was a cold day, and Pissarro did not go far to set up his easel. He was living just around the corner, down the narrow street to the right of the two-wheeled cart. It is hard to tell if this is morning or evening with the thick grey clouds overhead threatening new snow.

Instead of idyllic white snow drifts, Pissarro portrays the reality of snow in the city, white flakes turned gray from traffic and people working to clear a path. The pale pinks of the buildings fade into the warm gray of the muddy snow depicted with tiny dabs of paint. The soft warm palette is enlivened by the tall red chimney in the center. Its brightness is emphasized by a small patch of green in the lower left corner, apparently a cover over a wagon. These small bright patches of complementary color create a diagonal which reflects that of the gables of the corner building, creating unity. Depite the warm colors, the painting portrays the icy chill in the air.

Rue de Gisors has hardly changed at all since Pissarro painted it. The pink building on the corner actually has three stories and no dormer windows, and the tall angled roof with the red chimney does not seem nearly as tall as Pissarro portrayed it. If he took artistic license with the architecture in this case, it would not be the first time.

Rue de Gisors, Author’s photo, c. 2005

This painting seems to foreshadow paintings Pissarro would make 25 years later of the Boulevard Montmartre in Paris. While the buildings on Rue Gisors are not nearly as grand as the Haussmannian architecture on Boulevard Montmartre, the rows of windows and chimney pots are similar, the scene is just as lively, and the well-traveled snow is just as gray.

Boulevard Montmartre, Winter Morning, 1897, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York PDRS 1160


Ashmolean Museum, Oxford


Open 18 February – 12 June 2022

This major exhibition, of works drawn from the Ashmolean’s collections as well as international loans, will span Pissarro’s entire career.

Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) is one of the most celebrated artists of nineteenth-century France and a central figure in Impressionism. Considered a father-figure to many in the movement, his work was enormously influential for many artists, including Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. It opens in spring 2022.

I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Visit my website for more information on Pissarro and my books:

PISSARRO IN BASEL – Exhibition Video

#CamillePissaro #Pissarro #KunstmuseumBasel #RondestHouse #Pontoise #Impressionism #Art #frenchartist #oilpainting #artexhibition #Pissarroexhibition #arthistory #fineart #France #Basel

The Rondest-House, L’Hermitage, Pontoise, 1875, oil on canvas, 21.7 x 18.1 inches, (PDRS 395)

This Pissarro painting, The Rondest-House, L’Hermitage, Pontoise. is featured in the current exhibition, Camille Pissarro: The Studio of Modernism. It is a recent (2021) gift of Dr. Klaus Berlepsch to the Kunstmuseum Basel.

Pontoise may have been Pissarro’s favorite place to paint. He lived there twice, from 1866-1868 and again after the Franco-Prussian War from 1872-1882, and it was there that he created many of his most innovative and memorable paintings. L’Hermitage was a close suburb of Pontoise, just over the hill from the center of town. Easel in hand, Pissarro roamed through the neighborhoods looking for interesting motifs, and he made several paintings in this area.

Painted in 1875, the year after the First Impressionist exhibition, it seems to defy many of the more familiar characteristics of Impressionism with its somber autumnal colors and closed-off view due in large part to the horizontal format. As he frequently does, the artist contrasts distinct curves with the sharp angles of the large house, which dominates the painting. In the lower right corner, a soft curve is barely indicated by a dark shadow in what appears to be golden leaves or straw. Above it, the path carves a larger, almost identical curve brightened perhaps by a ray of sunlight. The steep hillside behind the girl forms a curve in the opposite direction. On the left side of the canvas, a crook of tree trunk pushes the curves into a vertical format—radical because the tree has no visible roots and only one indication of branches going into the sky. Cropping a tree in this manner was totally against the standards of academic art of the day, but Pissarro delighted in breaking the rules.

The flattened image of the house pushes the foreground forward resulting in the closed-off view of this particular spot. Very little is shown on the left beyond the house to suggest perspective. The roughness of the gray and tan walls is defined by the stippling effect of the thick paint, evidence of the artist’s hand. A thin screen of scraggly trees emphasizes the verticality of the house.

The colors suggest autumn or early winter with a gray sky and leafless trees. The only bright color is the golden strip on the pathway suggesting a ray of light from the fading sun. To the right of the young girl on the path is a chicken, which together with another chicken, makes a line to a tall man (her father, perhaps) almost hidden among the tree trunks. Neither of them is the focal point of the painting; in fact, it would be hard to identify a specific focal point. The eye travels all over the painting from the crisscross brushstrokes on the ground to the chimney and down again through the heavily textured walls to the bright spikiness on the path, a mélange of subtle colors and materiality.

The exhibition will be at the Kunstmuseum Basel until January 23, 2022 when it will move in a smaller edition to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, U.K.

The Kunstmuseum Basel has posted a superb video of the entire exhibition. Use this link:  Or go to the museum’s website:

PISSARRO: Portrait of Minette

Portrait of Jeanne Pissarro, Called Minette, 1872, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn., PDRS 282

This touching portrait of Pissarro’s seven-year-old daughter, Jeanne-Rachel (called Minette), one of thousands of paintings seized by the Nazis, is featured in an exhibition, Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art, at the Jewish Museum in New York City until January 9, 2022.

Pissarro made the painting in 1872 and gave it to his dear friends Ludovic Piette and his wife Adele, who were especially close to Camille and his wife Julie. They had visited the Piette family many times at Montfoucault, their farm in Brittany. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, when Prussian soldiers drew near to their home in Louveciennes, Camille and Julie fled to Montfoucault. At the time, Minette was five and Lucien, their son, was seven. During their three-month stay, another daughter, Adele Emma was born, but died two weeks later.

The Piettes, who had no children, were especially fond of the Pissarro children. Upon receiving the painting, Piette wrote Pissarro, “I come to the little portrait. I didn’t dare speak to you about it. It’s a great pleasure for me to have it: the little girl, the recollection of your stay here, your journey to England, everything…retraced for us; and also the painter’s ragout, those wan, somewhat sickly tones, that transparent skin, that ash blonde hair of the little one, what a feast for the eyes you have made of them: a sketch no doubt, and one that is all the more delightful to me, a [mere] sketcher.”

Minette became ill in the fall of 1873 and died a few months later on April 6. Piette generously returned her portrait to the grieving Pissarro family. The painting was recovered from a Nazi train in August, 1944. It is now in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn.

Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings, Vol II, p. 223.

New York Post, August 20, 2021


#pissarro #pissarro’sbirthday #Impressionism #Pontoise #10July #art #paintings #radicalpaintings #pointillism #Seurat #CamillePissarro #KunstmuseumBasel #Pissarroexhibition

Chestnut Trees in Osny, 1883, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland PDRS 715

July 10 is the 191st birthday of Camille Pissarro. Born in 1830 in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, he became a great artist—one whose early paintings were daring, radical and uncompromising. Even today, his paintings challenge what is currently believed about Modern art.

By the time he made this painting, Chestnut Trees in Osny, he had moved to Paris (1855), defied academic art, walked away from the Paris Salon (even though 11 of his paintings were accepted there), spearheaded the Impressionist movement and taken part in seven Impressionist exhibitions (he would be part of the eighth, as well), and was well on his way into what would become Pointillism.

Pissarro had lived with his family in Pontoise, just north of Paris from 1866-1868 and again from 1872-1882. But it had become too expensive, and they moved to the nearby village of Osny until he could find a more suitable place to settle. It was during this time in 1883 that he made this painting of a large old chestnut tree.

The composition may seem somewhat conventional for Pissarro, who often confounds the eye with diagonal lines and overlapping images. But it shows just how close Pissarro already was to the pointillist technique, which he would embrace two years later in 1885 when he met Seurat.  Even as a young painter in the Caribbean (1852-54), Pissarro was using tiny brushstrokes in many separate, unblended shades of yellow and green.

In this painting, the tiny specks of paint are most evident in the foreground where the shaded green and yellow background is dotted with dark green and white, portraying sunlight through unseen foliage at the top of the tree. A patch of full sunlight just beyond is portrayed by touches of yellow, white and pale green. The distant tree on the left shows no painted structure of trunk and limbs; it is composed entirely of dabs of paint, dark green interspersed with lighter green and yellow. The only full brushstrokes are the brown and dark grey ones that compose the trunk and branches of the big tree and the tiny strokes that make up the blue and grey roofs of the little white houses in the distance.

This wonderful painting is at the Kunstmuseum Basel, and perhaps it will be part of the exhibition opening there on September 4 entitled Camille Pissarro: The Studio of Modernism. Information about the exhibition says: “Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) ranks among the most distinguished artists of nineteenth-century France. To retrace the arc of his exceptionally diverse oeuvre is to witness the birth of modernism. And yet today’s histories of art often cast Pissarro in a subsidiary role.”  Perhaps this important exhibition will lay the groundwork for recognizing Pissarro as the innovator of Modern art that he was.  For more information on the exhibition:

 I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Visit my website for more information on Pissarro and my books:

PISSARRO: Springtime in the Orchard

#Pissarro #CamillePissarro #Pontoise #Louveciennes #Spring #Durand-Ruel #Impressionism #Orchards #CathedralSaint-Maclou #Franco-PrussianWar #NationalGalleryofArt #abstractpissarro #pissarrosplaces

Orchard in Bloom, 1872, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., PDRS 248

Camille Pissarro painted Orchard in Bloom in the spring of 1872 in the fields and orchards of Pontoise. It was a homecoming of sorts. Pissarro had lived in Pontoise before, from 1866 to 1868 when he moved to Louveciennes. Then in 1870, the Franco-Prussian war forced Pissarro and his family to flee, first to Brittany and then to London. When he returned to Louveciennes in 1871, he found that most of his paintings and drawings—a lifetime of work—had been destroyed. A few months later, in early April 1872, he moved his family back to Pontoise to begin anew.

This painting captures the promise of spring and new beginnings. The trees heavy with blossoms speak of fruit to come. The plowed earth, warm under the midday sun, provides a fertile bed for seeds that will yield the summer’s vegetables. This small orchard was probably close to Pissarro’s home at 16 rue Malebranche (now 18 rue Revert).1 The tall gray shadowy spire in the distance is probably the bell tower of the Cathédrale Saint-Maclau, which is situated on a high hill in the center of town where Pissarro lived.2

Pissarro places the focal point, the large straight flowering tree, well to the left of center, creating an asymmetrical composition. He divides the painting in the center with a path running straight back to the vanishing point on the horizon (this is a favorite device of the artist). On the left are the flowering trees; on the right, the fertile fields give way to the town. Then he ties the two together with a broken diagonal, from the bent tree which extends to distant foliage and points to the bell tower.

The warmth of the sun turns the earth reddish mauve, dark patches showing its rough furrows. The tree trunks, solid in shades of greenish grey, make dark purple shadows on the ground. The branches are beginning to leaf out in shades of dark forest to pale apple green. The bright blue of the sky is tinged with pale lavender near the horizon and falls to earth to accent the man’s pants and the woman’s apron.

This painting, made in April 1872, was promptly purchased by Paul Durand-Ruel in just three months, July 1872. It now lives at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., ensuring that the promise of spring is available to one and all.

1Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paints, Vol. I, p. 135 and Vol II, p. 202.

2An etching made of this Pissarro painting by Gustave Marie Greux in 1873 uses the title An Orchard in Louveciennes. However, the catalogue raisonne (Vol II, p. 202) places this painting after Pissarro’s return to Pontoise. Because of my many visits to houses where Pissarro lived in Pontoise, I identified the gray shadow in the distance as the Cathédrale bell tower. I verified the closeness of Pissarro’s house to the Cathédrale on the map. I have also visited the house where Pissarro lived in Louveciennes, which is on the outskirts of town and not near any bell tower that I recall. I welcome any comments on this difference of opinion.

 I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Visit my website for more information on Pissarro and my books:

Pissarro in Germany

#Pissarro #CamillePissarro #Museum Barberini #Potsdam #Germany #Ashmolean #Impressionism #Snowscene #Snow #Eragny #Sunset #AbstractPissarro

View of Bazincourt, Effect of Snow, Sunset, 1892, Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany, PDRS 969

The quiet stillness of the winter afternoon is almost palpable in this masterpiece by Pissarro. Nothing is moving except the sun and the colored shadows it casts on the snowy meadow. He painted this same view two other times that year; one on a frosty morning (PDRS 966) and another on an overcast day (PDRS 970). When the three were exhibited together in an exhibition of Pissarro’s works at Durand-Ruel’s gallery in March 1894, a critic for L’Art Français wrote: “Never has this painter of light been so felicitous; never has his gaze been so keen, and never has he rendered with such tenderness the sparkle of snow in the glow of early morning or the muted hue and majesty of the village steeple thrusting its purple silhouette into the gold of the setting sun.”1

Earlier that year in the summer, Pissarro painted the same view; but this time the meadow was green with trees in full leaf (PDRS 960). Both of these paintings are at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany. How wonderful it must be to see them together and compare the seasonal nuances.

View of Bazincourt, Sunset, 1892, Museum Barberini, Potsdam, Germany PDRS 960

The summer view helps us interpret the brushstrokes seen in the snowy painting. It shows a row of small trees in the right foreground, willows lining the tiny Epte River meandering through the meadow behind Pissarro’s house. This painting shows only one of the sharp angles, but the snowy view shows another sharp angle to the left of this one. Just how tiny that river is can be seen in this contemporary photo by the author taken near what was then the Pissarro property.

River Epte, photo by author

Pissarro would have made these paintings from his studio in the barn, seated at a back window facing the village of Bazincourt. A painting made several years earlier from his house shows the big barn on the left and at the back of the meadow, the line of small willows mark the presence of the Epte in front of the heavy bank of trees.

View from my Window, Éragny, 1886, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford, UK, PDRS 825

The snowy painting is almost abstract with its squiggly lines and heavy brushstrokes, so thick they look like frosting. The expansive meadow in the foreground appears to be white, but is touched with pale violet shadows at the lower edge fading to even lighter lemon streaks nearer the trees. The sky fills the top of the canvas with shadings in reverse colors, more light lemon tinged with even lighter violet. The sun itself is cold, a brittle lemon yellow—not at all the golden sun most artists paint.  In the middle are leafless trees, surreal in appearance, no more than grey-green brushstrokes. The little willows, so verdant in the summer painting, are tiny marks, unidentifiable in this setting. The steeple is a sharp little point above a tiny patch of crimson which must be the church. Another bit of crimson adorns a cottage while random patches of soft pink pull the gaze around the painting.

At first glance, the eye sees only the beauty of the snowy scene. But a closer, more intimate look reveals the delicate colors and elegant brushstrokes—a rich reward for spending a few moments in the company of Pissarro.

1Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings, Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, 2005, Vol. III, p. 632.

I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

PISSARRO and Impressionist Painting in Switzerland

#KunstmuseumBasel #Pissarro #Impressionism #Pontoise #l’Hermitage #abstract #landscape #composition #abstractpissarro

A View of l’Hermitage, Pontoise, 1878, Kunstmuseum Basel, gift from some art lovers, acquired in 1912 with a contribution from the Basel government Inv. 871, PDRS 553

Pissarro’s painting, A View of l’Hermitage, Pontoise, was the first Impressionist painting in a museum collection in Switzerland, according to the website of the Kunstmuseum Basel.[1] When it appeared in an exhibition on French Impressionism in the Kunsthalle Basel in 1912, a group of artists and art lovers arranged for its acquisition and placement in the Basel Public Art Collection. The museum writes: “It was not only the first Impressionist painting to be included in the collection of the Kunstmuseum Basel, but also the first picture of this art movement in Switzerland.”

This lovely painting depicts an area that Pissarro knew well. He must have enjoyed this particular scene; he had painted it twice before in 1874 (A Corner of l’Hermitage, Pontoise, PDRS 356) and again in 1875 (View of the Côte des Gratte-Coqs, Pontoise, PDRS 407).[2] The scene is familiar, and the eye tends to see what it expects—plowed earth in the left corner, a woman tending the leafy green vegetables, a cluster of neat village houses behind a scraggly dead tree pointing to fields on the hillside. A lovely, uncomplicated landscape, it seems.

And yet, a closer look reveals Pissarro’s determination to do things differently. The patch of dirt in the left corner is part of a circle and the first of several concentric bands that radiate all the way up the hill and into the sky. The second band marked by the woman is bright green; the third dull green one contains the standing man. Behind him, the fourth band is formed by roofs of sheds at the foot of the scraggly tree, and the crest of the hill on the horizon forms the fifth band. Even the full branch of the large tree follows the curve and points to the white clouds that continue the arch in the sky. Only the straight line of houses in the center breaks the pattern.

There’s more. A closer look reveals that the houses have no volume; they are flat as signboards. Only as the line moves to the left and one house overlaps another is there any suggestion of perspective. There are no shadows to indicate depth. There is no attempt at realism; broad visible brushstrokes form the roofs and sides of the houses as well as the roofs of the sheds, which look like flat color blocks. The workers are formed with few brushstrokes, and though the man’s face is visible, there are no features. Even the lush summer foliage of the tree isn’t real; it is simply a construction of diagonal hatch marks.

This looks like a typical Impressionist landscape because that is what the eye expects to see. In fact, it is a demonstration of composition and brushstrokes that eight decades later would become part of the abstract painter’s lexicon. Its beauty is certainly there to be enjoyed, but how much richer and more interesting it becomes when Pissarro’s radical techniques are recognized.

Please share your comments with me at:

I am honored that my latest book, Abstract Pissarro, was included in a review by David Carrier for Hyperallergic

Abstract Pissarro is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.


[2] Pissarro:Critical Catalogue of Paintings, (2005) Vol. II, p. 379.


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