Posts Tagged 'Degas'



Another very important Pissarro exhibition will take place in Pontoise this spring featuring  Pissarro’s print-making.  The following information is taken from the Facebook page of Musée Pissarro.  The translation from French is mine with the help of Google translations. If you’d like to read the original,  see:

In the second half of the 19th century, Pissarro worked together with Degas to make original engravings. Through his research, freely associating watercolor, aquatint and dry point, they invented Impressionist printmaking. In addition to nearly 200 prints, Pissarro also made monotypes.

In the early 1860s, Pissarro made his first etchings with a classical system of lines and hatching. When Dr. Gachet installed a press in his house in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1873, Pissarro made engravings together with Guillaumin and Cezanne. Beginning in 1879, he began a fruitful collaboration with Degas, who introduced him to colored inks. Pissarro began experimenting with engravings in multiple states that allowed him to retain variants of the same composition.  The possibility of comparing different versions of a motif was a precious discovery that influenced his paintings of urban and port views in his later years. He called his engravings, “engraved impressions.”

This is the most important exhibition in France of Pissarro’s print-making in many decades. It includes works from the collections of the Musée Pissarro, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and private collections along with monotypes from the Musee Malraux du Havre and the Musee d’Aix-les-Baines.

Musée Tavet-Delacour, 4 rue Lemercier 95300 Pontoise

Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 13:30 to 18:00

6. PONTOISE d.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Professional

Pontoise is situated on high cliffs overlooking the Oise River. I took this photograph, one of my favorites, from the top of the hill where the Musée Pissarro is now located. It was in Pontoise that Pissarro painted some of his most beautiful Impressionist works. Many of the sites of his paintings are much the same as when he painted them. Visit the new Tourist Office on the banks of the Oise for more information.  Pontoise is just a 40-minute train ride from Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris.




La Place du Théâtre Français 1898   PDR 1208 Los Angeles Count Museum of Art

La Place du Théâtre Français
1898 PDR 1208
Los Angeles Count Museum of Art

The exhibition at Wuppertal, Germany, “Pissarro, Father of Impressionism,” is an extensive retrospective of Pissarro’s lifework, including a wide selection of paintings and works on paper from his earliest days as an artist. This painting, “La Place du Théâtre Français,” is one of several he painted during a long stay at the Hotel du Louvre from December 1898 to Spring 1899.It was about this time of year—the leaves were off the trees and people were bundled up in coats and hats.

Pissarro had the capacity to focus closely, and it served him well during this painting expedition. Paris was sharply divided over the Dreyfus Affair. Earlier that year, Émile Zola had published his famous letter “J’accuse,” which had incited public demonstrations. At night, anti-Semitic mobs were filling the streets, and as a Jew, Pissarro may have been in danger. Some of his colleagues and dear friends turned against him, including Renoir, Degas, and Cézanne. Through it all, he calmly painted the daytime scenes, portraying business as usual.

From his suite of rooms on the front of the Hotel Louvre, he had an excellent view straight down the Avenue de l’Opera to the fashionable new Opera Garnier. He did not usually paint famous sites or important buildings, and in the ten paintings he made of that street, the magnificent building is barely visible.

In this painting, he ignores the street and buildings to concentrate on the busy, traffic-filled intersection directly in front of the hotel. There is no horizon line, no sky, not even edges to the painting. The traffic literally runs off the canvas. Traffic is going in every direction with no regulations apparent. Pedestrians walk in the middle of the street among carriages, wagons full of produce and filled omnibuses. Pissarro gives order to the scene, using the largest omnibus to anchor the composition on the lower edge.

As he does sometimes, Pissarro uses the tallest tree to divide the canvas. On the right is a large pedestrian island and a small red building. Behind that and near the top of the canvas are white columns that indicate the presence of a large building. To the left of the tree is the helter-skelter of heavy traffic, regulated slightly by the small circle holding the tall street light and a larger circle at the top of the canvas with a fountain.

The whole scene looks like miniature figures on a tilted table, almost as if they are sliding into our lap. To emphasize the motion, Pissarro created a line on the street beginning at left corner and extending to the head of the brown horse pulling the omnibus. To the right, the street is lighter compared to the left. Is there a shadow on the street? There is no way to know because we can see neither the sky nor the buildings that might be blocking the sun.

If a contemporary artist made a painting like that today, we would call it an all-over abstract painting. It goes beyond the canvas edges on every side and it tells no story. This is another example of how far ahead of his time Pissarro was. The techniques he developed more than a hundred years ago now seem very ordinary to us, and we forget that he was such a radical and inventive artist.



Gouache on silk


LES VENDANGES Gouache on vellum

Gouache on vellum


Paintings are most often rectangular or square, or even round. But how unusual is it to see a painting in the shape of a fan? These two, both in the Impressionist Auction at Sotheby’s in May, are superb examples of Pissarro’s fans.

Before the time of air conditioning, a folding fan was an important accessory for a lady. She could use it to generate a pleasant breeze or to flirt with a stranger. In the 17th and 18th century, fans were decorated with ornate patterns and designs, becoming works of art in their own right.  Instead of cutting and folding them to fit the frame of the fan, they were sometimes left flat and framed like paintings.  

Among the Impressionists, both Pissarro and Degas made paintings in the shape of fans. Unlike earlier fancy designs, their fans were complete paintings made to fit in the unusual circular shape missing a center. It is interesting to see how Pissarro placed each of the elements to fit within this odd shape. In the fourth Impressionist exhibition, Pissarro exhibited twelve fans, and he continued making fans throughout the 1880s.

The first fan shows a busy market scene, very typical of Pissarro’s work, except it fits perfectly into the odd shape. He uses the lamp-post on the left and the flag pole on the right to divide the space into thirds.  On the left, we see the vendors up close, going back and forth to the stalls.  In the center, a view of the village in the background and on the right, a woman beside a table filled with china or glass objects for sale. The composition is so perfect that the “hole in the center” is not even noticed.

The second fan, showing women in a field picking peas or beans, is a very special one indeed.  This one belonged to Mary Cassatt, who obtained it directly from Pissarro. He uses a different device in this fan, creating a very strong horizon line which causes us to assume that there is a line across the bottom too.  Again, the figures on each side are shown close up and those in the center are farther away.  He balances the distant village in the right background with the tall trees on the left.  

Since fans were most often painted on paper or silk, they are more sensitive to light and are not often put on view in museums.  Occasionally, fans will be shown in special exhibitions. So it was a rare opportunity to see these two, both of them superb examples of Pissarro’s artistry.


was among the books exhibited at

Book Expo America in New York last week.

This photo shows it on the top shelf in the center.


Visit the website at

The special discount on purchase of the book is still available to those who visit the website.

YES….There are Pissarro Paintings at Pitti Palace in Florence

In a Kitchen Garden – PDR 558

Landscape Near Pontoise” – PDR 517


It seemed unlikely that Pissarro paintings would be in Florence, Italy. But there it was in the index of the Pissarro Critical Catalogue (Joachim Pissarro-Claire Durand-Ruel Snoellerts, 2005).

I had been to Pitti Palace before, but once again I was astounded by the opulence of the building and its furnishings. Upstairs in the Modern Gallery, I glanced in the side rooms, most of which were cordoned off with velvet ropes.  Inside one door was a small painting with familiar contours and shades of green.  It was Pissarro’s “Landscape Near Pontoise” (PDR 517). Just to the right and up higher, I thought I saw another Pissarro. I couldn’t be sure since there was a glare on the glass. I stood for a long time, straining my eyes but unable to really see either painting.

The guard was sitting in a nearby corner. I asked in my most courteous way if it would be possible to step just inside the door to see the Pissarros. “No,” polite but firm. Then I became desperate—how could I be so close and still not see them?  I poured out my heart….about studying Pissarro’s art for more than twenty years, writing a book about Pissarro, traveling all over the world (well, three continents) to see Pissarro paintings. She looked up from her book and said to me in English, “Wait.”

After a few minutes, she came back with a security guard, who as he approached me was already shaking his head no. He looked at me and I began my story again. I’ll never know if he understood what I said, but he obviously understood my longing.  “Just one minute,” he said as he lifted the velvet rope.

Inside, I had a perfect view of the landscape and was able to study the other painting, “In a Kitchen Garden” (PDR 558). The three of us—me and the two guards—stood there talking about how magnificent the paintings were. We attracted a small crowd drawn by the unusual event, so I had to go. But I had a good look at paintings that have probably been seen by very few people, compared to other Pissarro paintings in museums.

The Landscape was painted in 1877, and the Garden was painted in 1878, both of them while Pissarro was living in Pontoise. Both were painted after the Third Impressionist Exhibition in April 1877.  Both were purchased in Paris by the same man, Diego Martelli, an art critic from Florence, Italy and a friend of Degas. Martelli was a prominent supporter of the Macchiaioli, a group of Italian artists who painted in plein air and focused on light and color in much the same way as the French Impressionists.

Since Martelli took them home, the Pissarro paintings have never left Italy. Martelli loaned them both to an exhibition “Esposizione della Società di Incoraggiamento delle Belle Arti,” at the Pitti Palace in 1879. They were then bequeathed by Martelli to the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Since 1924, they have been in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna at the Pitti Palace.

They have been featured in exhibitions of French paintings in Florence, Rome and Venice. The Landscape was featured in exhibitions in Livorno and Reviso, and in 1997 it was included in an exhibition, “Camille Pissarro,” in Ferrara, Italy. It is little wonder that most of us have never seen these paintings. Though there was little opportunity to really study them, I am convinced that they are both superb examples of Pissarro’s work at the height of the Impressionist Movement.


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