Posts Tagged 'Christie’s'

PISSARRO LOOKS BACK AT PONTOISE

Landscape at Pontoise, c. 1879 Private collection PDR600

Landscape at Pontoise, c. 1879
Private collection PDR 600

Several wonderful Pissarro paintings are available in the Spring sales of Impressionist paintings in New York City this year. This one, “Landscape at Pontoise,” will be offered in the Day Sale on May 15, 2015 at Christie’s. It will be especially exciting to see it in person since the Pissarro catalogue raisonné (2005) contains only a black-and-white photograph. The provenance provided by Christie’s does not list any exhibitions, so it probably has not been on view for a long time.

It is a vertical painting, generally considered an unusual choice for a landscape. At that time, most artists used horizontal canvases that would give them plenty of room on each side of their focal point. This painting is also tiny, only 16 1/8 x 13 inches, a little treasure.

Pissarro uses more than half the canvas for a thick screen of tall poplar trees which prevents us from seeing the village of Pontoise in the distance. All we get is a narrow space through which we see the steeple of the church of Saint-Maclou, now a cathedral, and a couple of red roofs. Even in this close-up, the church steeple is indistinct and though our eyes are drawn to it, it is obviously not a the most important element (focal point) in the painting.

steeple detail

In the foreground, we see a woman bending over and a man in the distance. As we know, many of Pissarro’s paintings have no particular focal point–no large or important element that dominates the view. In this one, both the woman and man are mere sketches rendered in a few brushstrokes and hardly large enough to be important.

woman detail

Though the trees dominate the painting, they have no real importance–all they do is prevent us from seeing what is beyond. Pissarro developed this device about ten years earlier in his 1869 painting, “The Village Screened by Trees.” According to the catalogue raisonné, that was the first time that he used this screening device.

The Village Screened by Trees  c. 1869 Private collection PDR 134

The Village Screened by Trees c. 1869
Private collection PDR 134

We see trees used in similar ways in the paintings of Corot, with whom Pissarro had painted as a young man. But Corot’s paintings always had a focal point, and his trees were never as thick and as dominant as those in Pissarro’s screens.  Pissarro continued to use this compositional device throughout his career. Because this painting has no real focal point, we are forced to look at the painting literally as paint on canvas and enjoy the energy and movement of Pissarro’s brushstrokes.

The Lot Notes provided by Christie’s for this painting say, “Paysage à Pontoise was painted during a period when Pissarro was increasingly using small, stabbing brushstrokes of color to render his images, prefiguring Neo-Impressionism. … Pissarro has paid particular attention to enriching the painted surface with a stippling effect on the trees and the overgrown field.”

trees detail

Pissarro is painting in a way that was still very new for that time. He made this painting in 1879, the year of the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition. The art establishment of that time continued to favor paintings in which brushstrokes were invisible and the surface of the painting was smooth.  Pissarro is, once again, defying the accepted practice. Seen up close, it looks like he was applying the paint with wild abandonment–stabs of blue and white in the sky and green and dark green for the trees. A faint touch of light red among the green gives it even more brilliance.

This view of Pontoise from the nearby village of Ennery was lovely on a sunny day, but Pissarro was not interested in giving us a photographic reproduction. If all we see is the location, then we have missed the point. Pissarro used this view to provide an engaging design for putting paint on canvas.

PISSARRO IN PARIS — ON THE COVER OF CHRISTIE’S IMPRESSIONIST CATALOGUE

Woman Pushing a Wheelbarrow, 1890 PDR875

Woman Pushing a Wheelbarrow, Éragny 1890
PDR875

Camille Pissarro is in the spotlight again — this time at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Sale to be held 25 March. In fact, a detail of the painting is featured on their catalogue cover.  Early last month, Sotheby’s featured a glorious Pissarro painting of Boulevard Montmartre on the cover of their Impressionist sale catalogue.  The interest in Pissarro’s work is obviously increasing among collectors and auction houses.  His work is finally getting the attention it deserves.

This sun drenched painting of a scene in Éragny was made just after Pissarro turned away from pointilism, the dot technique that had consumed his energy for several years. The Christie’s catalogue describes the change in Pissarro’s technique this way:  “However, rather than using the ‘stifling’ dot, as in his neoimpressionist phase, he uses a much looser, crisscrossing technique, by which he interweaves his brushstrokes, having fractured and divided the marks of paint into a more complex, but also much freer, and livelier pictorial surface.”

On Christie’s website, you can look at this painting up close which allows you to see the tiny brushstrokes and multitude of colors he used to create the image. The subject could not be more “down to earth” than this—a woman pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with manure to the pile at the edge of the field in the bright sunlight. The hedge row draws a slight diagonal to the horizon line and the steep pitched roof and gigantic tree lift our eyes to the fluffy clouds.

Pissarro made another painting of the same place in Éragny, but the manure pile is replaced with clusters of wild flowers.  The same tree and roof appear, and a woman (looks like the same one) is walking with a goat in the opposite direction.  This wonderful painting “Woman and Goat at Eragny” (PDR 874) is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Woman and Goat at Éragny, 1889 PDR 874

Woman and Goat at Éragny, 1889
PDR 874

PISSARRO’S PLACES IN NEW YORK

DOBBS FERRY AND HARRISON

YOU’RE INVITED

Please join me March 22 at 2 pm for a slide-lecture based on my book PISSARRO’S PLACES, Dobbs Ferry Public Library, 55 Main Street, 914-693-6614

 Or  March 23 at 2 pm for a slide-lecture based on my book PISSARRO’S PLACES, Harrison Public Library, 2 Bruce Avenue, 914-835-8324

PISSARRO’S PLACES is available on the book’s website: http://www.pissarrosplaces.com and on Amazon.

PISSARRO in Detroit……for now.

The Path, 1889 Camille Pissarro, PDR 871 Detroit Institute of Art

The Path, 1889
Camille Pissarro, PDR 871
Detroit Institute of Art

This beautiful pointillist painting by Pissarro at Detroit Institute of Art is one of those owned by the City of Detroit and may be caught in the middle of the city’s bankruptcy.

According to an article in the Washington Post (December 16, 2013) “Christie’s, which has been poring over the collection for months, said it will include recommendations for how Detroit might make money while maintaining ownership of some of its most valuable pieces — including Degas’ ”Dancers in the Green Room,” Pissarro’s “The Path” and Renoir’s “Graziella.” But the city may have to sell off works many consider integral to the cultural soul of the city in order to help repay creditors, including retired public workers whose pensions could take a huge hit.”  

It is ironic that Pissarro himself was in a terrible financial crunch during the time that he painted this picture. In May of 1889, he wrote, “Business (since it always comes down to that) is catastrophic.”  The following year, he became disenchanted with pointillism, and abandoned Neo-Impressionism.

This painting is not one of Pissarro’s more familiar paintings. It has been included in only four exhibitions, the most recent one in Japan in 1990. But it demonstrates his amazing technical ability which literally pours the rigidity of pointillism into sheer poetry.

Pissarro cleverly uses pointilism’s dot to convey the multicolored autumn trees. But it is the overall composition which grabs our attention. The entire right side of the canvas is virtually “in our face,” filling the foreground with the windowless side of a house and a massive tree whose branches fill the canvas top. While we cling to the green embankment, we see the path extending around a curve to more houses and hills in the distance. The variegated sky adds a sense of uncertainty.

Clearly, this is not a painting we absorb in one glance–there is much to examine and ponder. Let’s hope that the City of Detroit will have time to reconsider “The Path” and that it will be included in future exhibitions shown around the world.

Information on Pissarro’s life and this painting is from Pissarro:Critical Catalogue by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts (2005).

DO-IT-YOURSELF — PISSARRO EXHIBITION — THIS WEEKEND IN NEW YORK!!

Banks of the Loing at Moret, 1901, PDR 1369 Sothebys, Lot 39

Banks of the Loing at Moret, 1901, PDR 1369
Sothebys, Lot 39

When Christies, Sothebys and Bonhams have their semi-annual sales of Impressionist paintings, you never know what you’ll see!  This is your chance to see the paintings up for sale. Most of them are from private collections and may not have been seen in public for a long time.  Likewise, when the hammer falls on the auction block next week, most of these paintings will go back into private collections. We can only hope that the new owners will graciously share them for future exhibitions.

SEE THEM FOR YOURSELF!

Organize your own exhibition around the seven Pissarro oil paintings on view this weekend — all of them outstanding.  Save the most time for Sotheby’s—they have five paintings on view:  Lots 35, 39, 42, 44 and 58;  Christies is offering one painting, Lot 44, and Bonhams has one spectacular painting Lot 23.  All seven are shown in this blog.

AND THERE’S A SPECIAL BONUS ON SUNDAY AT BONHAMS!

Pissarro, An Artist for the 21st Century, A lecture by Patricia Mainardi, PhD

2:00 pm on Sunday, 3 Nov 2013 at Bonhams, 580 Madison Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets

They request an RSVP by Nov. 1 events.us@bonhams.com  +1 212 644 9143

Here are the other paintings. They may look nice on the screen, but nothing compares with seeing them in person!!

The “Englishman’s House,” Eragny, c. 1902, PDR 1465 Sothebys, Lot 44

The “Englishman’s House,” Eragny, c. 1902, PDR 1465
Sothebys, Lot 44

The Hills at Thierceville, Haystacks, 1897, PDR 1189 Sothebys, Lot 42

The Hills at Thierceville, Haystacks, 1897, PDR 1189
Sothebys, Lot 42

 

A Meadow at Eragny, 1886, PDR 829 Sothebys, Lot 35

A Meadow at Eragny, 1886, PDR 829
Sothebys, Lot 35

 

The Seine in Flood, Pont Boieldieu, Rouen, 1896, PDR 1120 Sothebys, Lot 58

The Seine in Flood, Pont Boieldieu, Rouen, 1896, PDR 1120
Sothebys, Lot 58

 

Landscape with Houses and Wall, Eragny, 1892, PDR 968 Christies, Lot 44

Landscape with Houses and Wall, Eragny, 1892, PDR 968
Christies, Lot 44

 

The Garden at Maubuisson, Pontoise, 1882, PDR 696 Bonhams, Lot 23

The Garden at Maubuisson, Pontoise, 1882, PDR 696
Bonhams, Lot 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor’s Pissarro to be Auctioned at Christie’s

 

PHOTO AND CAPTION FROM ARTDAILY.ORG— A Christie's employee poses with an artwork, titled Pommiers a Eragny, by French artist Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) during an auction preview in London. The painting, which forms part of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, is estimated to fetch between 900,000-1.2 million GBP at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art sale on 07 February. EPA/KERIM OKTEN. For full story, see http://www.artdaily.org



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