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.

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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 soldiers occupied his home 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.

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 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!

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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.



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