Posts Tagged 'landscape'

Pissarro Afield- The Hills at Thierceville

1189 Thierceville Hills

The Hills at Thierceville, 1897, Private Collection PDRS 1189

When Pissarro returned home in mid-July 1897 after two months of caring for his ill son Lucien in London, he painted his garden and the meadow at his Èragny home. One day, he took his easel and walked a mile and a half northwest of Èragny to the hills surrounding the village of Thierceville.

In this place, unlike his enclosed garden and tree-lined meadow, he found complete openness—just the earth and the sky. The only trees were far away. The haystacks on the left suggest that some of the fields had been harvested. But it appears that Pissarro set his easel in the midst of an uncut field.

The long green and yellow brushstrokes fill the foreground beginning at the lower left corner and forming an ascending diagonal line to the right edge. The area with the haystacks is mostly green and horizontal brushstrokes give it an appearance of smoothness. To the right, a shepherd and a flock of sheep occupy a yellow patch of ground that echoes the diagonal beneath it. Surrounding them are other patches of land, dark green, light green, salmon and another patch with long green brushstrokes. In the distance behind the haystacks are rows of dark green trees and other hillsides. The sky reinforces the perspective with tiny clouds just above the distant hills turning into larger more colorful clouds up close.

Though this is a pleasant scene, it offers no dramatic focal point—an important object or person. It teaches no lesson nor does it promote any cause. This is one of those paintings about which Pissarro said, “. . . the eye of the passerby is too hasty and sees only the surface. Whoever is in a hurry will not stop for me.”

So if we are to understand why Pissarro painted this picture as he did, perhaps we should listen to his own words. “I see only spots of color. When I begin a painting, the first thing I try to put down is the accord.” When Pissarro looked at this field, he did not necessarily see fields of grain with haystacks and sheep. He saw blocks of color—robust green brushstrokes set against smoother linear areas in pale green, yellow and salmon. Above that a vivid contrast in texture and color—vigorous circular strokes in shades of white and lavender.

What happens in a painting when color and brushstroke are more important than haystacks and a flock of sheep? If we dare to compare this painting with many of those made half a century later, we might conclude that this painting is close to abstract. Considering it this way, even the most casual observer might be willing to stop and examine it more closely.

Pissarro – Studing a Rare Early Painting

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Paysage à La Varenne-Saint-Hilaire, 1863 Private collection, PDRS 72

 

The appearance of a Pissarro painting that has long been in private collections is always exciting.  It is even more compelling when it is an early painting because so few of these exist in Pissarro’s oeuvre. Those who study Pissarro know that in 1870 when Pissarro was 40 years old, the Prussian soldiers occupied his home during the Franco-Prussian War and destroyed nearly everything he had created until then. (He and his family escaped, first to Brittany and then to London, for the duration of the war.)

Recently at the Spring Masters Show in New York, Gallery 19C of Los Angeles exhibited a beautiful early painting by Pissarro. There is no clue as to how this small painting (7 1/2 x 9 3/4”) on a wood panel was saved. If the soldiers had seen it, they probably would have added it to other fuel in the fireplace to heat the large house.

This painting is especially important because it helps track Pissarro’s early development. The works he produced as a young man in St. Thomas and Venezuela demonstrate that he was an accomplished artist and display the sunlight and bright colors he would later incorporate into Impressionism.

Pissarro came to France in 1855, just in time to see the works of Corot, Daubigny, and Courbet at the Exposition Universelle. While these artists were beginning to push against academic art, they still utilized the subdued browns and grays most admired by Salon painters.

Seemingly influenced by their example and probably feeling pressure from his father to enter a painting in the Salon, Pissarro abandoned the vivid reds and bright blues of his Caribbean paintings and began using more subdued colors like the browns, grays and dark greens in this painting. As if he just couldn’t contain himself, however, he paints the roof a bright blue and ties it to the red kerchief on one of the women below with white dabs of paint that might be flowers on the tree.

His inventiveness goes way beyond Corot, Daubigny, and Courbet, however, in the prominence of his brushstrokes and his use of color to create design. There are four basic elements in the painting—the brown earth, the silver blue of the river, the blackish green of the forest, and the gray sky.  The field in the foreground is represented with prominent horizontal brush strokes. The tiny strip of water would be almost indistinguishable except it is set off by small vertical green strokes suggesting foliage on the bank. The forest is composed of black and dark green blotches and the only clue we have that they are trees are the barely visible trunks. Brush strokes are most evident as paint on canvas in the sky where the swirls and globs display the movement of the bristles. The two buildings, constructed with blocks of vertical brushstrokes, are there merely to create perspective in the layers of color.

Imagine if you will that there is no field, no stream or sky, and that what you see are stripes of color separated by two vertical blocks with swirls at the top. It’s not so hard to do.

As a landscape, this is a little treasure—delightful and pleasant to see.  However, once you study it closely, you have to question if that was Pissarro’s intention.  Or did he simply use the  landscape as the basis for making abstract design with paint on canvas? 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sense the Quiet Pulse of the Earth

The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise, 1877 National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise, 1877
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

This painting is one of those in the PISSARRO exhibition in Madrid (previous post)—a serene landscape painted near Pontoise. Just right of center, a woman rides sidesaddle on a horse, leading us into the picture. The road, just a dirt lane through the fields,  intersects with a large road bordered by trees. Between the smaller trees, other haystacks are visible in the distance. On the large road at the left, another woman walks out of the painting.

This simple landscape, divided almost equally between land and sky, is actually quite complicated. The horizon line is slightly curved like the edge of the earth. With nothing to stop our gaze, it stretches on both sides into infinity. The small curved lane where the woman is riding is roughly perpendicular to the large road. To the left of the horse is a small green triangle that makes a line with a row of green cabbages on the other side, creating a curvy X. Not to be outdone, the sky is filled with “buttermilk” clouds interspersed with big puffs that hurry from left to right.

At first glance, the colors seem simple too—red, yellow, green, blue and white. But the fields on the right reveal a myriad of greens—some more yellow, others more blue—side by side. The fields on the left are plain except for dashes of red—perhaps a newly plowed field.

Filled with movement and life, this painting requires a very large canvas. It is, in fact, approximately 59 inches wide and 36 inches high. Though the scene is placid, we sense the quiet pulse of the earth.

You can see it in Madrid at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszo for a few more weeks. In October, the PISSARRO exhibition will move to CaixaForum in Barcelona.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 PISSARRO’S PLACES, the book that explores all the sites painted by Pissarro, is now on sale at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszo. It will also be on sale in Barcelona at the CaixaForum in October.

See PISSARRO’S PLACES, the presentation

Philadelphia – Osher Lifetime Learning Institute on October 18

Chicago – Newberry International Research Library on October 23

To schedule a PISSARRO’S PLACES presentation for your organization, contact: Ann Saul at annsaul33@pissarrosplaces.com

 

 

SPAIN LOVES PISSARRO

A man looks at the painting "The old road to Ennery at Pontoise" (L) by Camille Pissaro (R) next to the painting "Still life with peonies and Mock orange" during the opening of the first monographic exhibition in Spain on Danish-French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid, on June 3, 2013. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET.

A man looks at the painting “The old road to Ennery at Pontoise” (L) by Camille Pissaro (R) next to the painting “Still life with peonies and Mock orange” during the opening of the first monographic exhibition in Spain on Danish-French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid, on June 3, 2013. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET. (From ART DAILY NEWS)

Spain must be loving Pissarro this week.  In the last seven days, the Pissarro blog counted 62 views from SPAIN!! Viewers from the US were a distant second at 14 views. www.artbookannex.com
No doubt, this is a result of PISSARRO, the extraordinary exhibition of his paintings currently at the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid.  After it closes on September 15, the exhibition will travel to Barcelona, CaixaForum, from 15 October 2013 to 13 January 2014. If you’re in Spain this summer, don’t miss it.  This is a great opportunity to see paintings not often seen in exhibitions, including two from the Pitti Palace in Florence.
For more information, see: www.museothyssen.org/
PISSARRO’S PLACES, the book sold at the Madrid exhibition is available at:

PISSARRO IN SPAIN — THIS SUMMER–IT’S PISSARRO!

CTB.1993.9

The Orchard at Éragny, 1896, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, PDR 1134

AN EXTRAORDINARY EXHIBITION IS OPENING IN JUNE IN MADRID!!  Perhaps the gorgeous painting shown above will be among those in the exhibition at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Here’s the full story from their superb English website (http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/home)

Pissarro

From 04 June to 15 September 2013

In the summer of 2013 the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza will be presenting the first monographic exhibition in Spain on the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). A key figure within Impressionism (he wrote the movement’s foundational letter and was the only one of its artists to take part in all eight Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886), Pissarro was nonetheless eclipsed by the enormous popularity of his friends and colleagues, in particular Claude Monet. The exhibition includes more than 70 works with the aim of restoring Pissarro’s reputation and presenting him as one of the great pioneers of modern art. Landscape, the genre that prevailed in his output, will be the principal focus of this exhibition, which offers a chronologically structured tour of the places where the artist lived and painted: Louveciennes, Pontoise and Éragny, as well as cities such as Paris, London, Rouen, Dieppe and Le Havre. While Pissarro is traditionally associated with the rural world, to which he devoted more than three decades of his career, at the end of his life he shifted his attention to the city and his late output is dominated by urban views. Curated by Guillermo Solana, this exhibition will subsequently be shown at the CaixaForum, Barcelona.

THE TIMING IS EXCELLENT TO SEE PISSARRO AND THE PORTS IN LE HAVRE, FRANCE AND PISSARRO IN MADRID, SPAIN THIS SUMMER.

 

PISSARRO AND ROTHKO — COLOR FIELDS IN DIALOGUE

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Misty Morning at Creil, 1873 Camille Pissarro

Pissarro used realistic elements to create scenes that now appear almost abstract, as demonstrated by the comparison of Misty Morning at Creil, 1873, with Rothko’s Untitled, 1969. Certainly color field paintings were unimaginable in the vocabulary of the Impressionists, but from the current post-abstract perspective, the similarities in the two paintings are apparent.

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Untitled, 1969  Mark Rothko

The simple reading of the Pissarro painting is that of a common landscape, depicting a condition of weather.  All of the Impressionists were interested in portraying various types of weather on the canvas, and many of them painted fog or mist in scenes similar to Pissarro’s.  However, most of these artists provided some kind of recognizable focal point to draw the eye.

In Misty Morning, the eye searches for an important focal point, and settles instead on the complementary contrast of the sky and land, two distinct color fields. The dusty blue sky with orange-shaded undertones is surprisingly similar to the top of the Rothko, which is also a dusty blue with shades of orange peeking through the brushstrokes.

The lower half of the Pissarro is not a solid color field like that of the Rothko, but the overall impression is similar.  In the foreground, Pissarro uses the orange-shaded color to depict the muddy ground. Near the crest of the hill, a silvery white frost covers the ground creating an effect similar to that in the lower half of the Rothko.

The elements that add realism and set the Pissarro apart from the Rothko are the images on the horizon. Just right of center is a dark blotch that represents several trees along with shadowy figures. In the center left is another shadowy tree image. While a landscape by another artist might use these figures as a focal point, Pissarro makes them dissolve into the background. The trees are dark blue and the covering mist erases any detail of structure that might grab the eye’s attention. Instead, the trees serve as a simple division between the contrasting colors of the sky and ground.

The use of human figures tends to draw the eye, but here Pissarro has minimized their importance. The color of the woman’s upper garment blends with the trees while her skirt is the same color as the ground. The man is practically invisible, with a cap the color of the trees and clothing that fades into the background.  There may or may not be another shadowy figure farther up the hill.

The obvious effort that Pissarro made to blend the people and trees into the background suggests that they are not to be considered focal points. The obvious point of interest is the complementary contrast between the sky and ground, two color fields only slightly more complicated than those depicted in the Rothko painting.

One might say that Pissarro just painted the scene as he saw it, and that he did not “intentionally” paint something that today can be compared to Rothko’s color fields. While Pissarro would not have used the same vocabulary, he certainly was striving for different effects throughout his career. To accept the obvious in his paintings is to miss the point of his work. It is only on close scrutiny that his genius is recognized.

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.

Cricket? In French Impressionism?

Hampton Court Green, London

1891 Washington, DC National Gallery of Arts

PDR 887

Pissarro was intrigued by motifs that were typically English. During his second London visit in 1890, he painted his first cricket match. He must have enjoyed the game because he painted two more cricket matches on his fourth London visit.

A cricket match is not the easiest thing to depict—the players are spread out over a large playing field. Pissarro capitalizes on the expansiveness of the green lawns edged by magnificent shade trees. He allows them to extend well beyond the edges of the canvas, giving a feeling of endlessness. This and the substantial clubhouse buildings must have been an interesting change for the painter who generally confined his motif to what the eye would see in a glance. Since the painting carries the date of 1891, Pissarro must have finished it in his studio in Éragny after his return from London.

When this painting was exhibited in Belgium the next year, it attracted the enthusiastic attention of art reviewers. One critic said that the painting “showing a lawn bathed in summer light, crowded with cricket players […], possesses above all an extra-ordinary intensity. It miraculously suggests the sumptuous aristocratic English life.”

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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