Posts Tagged 'Rouen'

Paris Loves Pissarro — 1 of 3

 

Self-Portrait

Self-portrait with a palette 1896 Dallas Museum of Art

On my second visit to the Musée Marmottan, I learned that they have extended the exhibition for two extra weeks!  That’s how big the crowds are at the exhibition, “Pissarro, First Among the Impressionists.” On both visits, the galleries were thick with people, including a tour bus from who knows where and groups of school children who paid close attention to the details.

Pissarro, who once said of viewers that “they pass me by,” would have been so pleased to see that the French people have come to appreciate his work.  And he would have been so proud of the superb exhibition mounted by Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, co-author of the Pissarro catalog raisonne. Because she knows all of his paintings–literally, she knew which to choose for this exhibition.

It begins with a painting Pissarro made of his birthplace, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It looks like an Impressionist painting but he made it in 1855, nineteen years before the first Impressionist exhibition. Monet was only 15 years old at the time.

 

Two Women by the Sea

Two Women near the sea, 1856,  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Another painting of barges on the Seine made in 1863, also looks Impressionist, with the cloudy sky and reflections in the water. There are several early paintings, but only one reflects Corot’s influence, showing the young Pissarro’s stubborn independence from the beginning.

There are so many gorgeous paintings from Louveciennes, and this exhibition has three classical ones, including two snow paintings that are totally Impressionistic, including purple shadows.

Louveciennes

The Route to Versailles, Louveciennes, snow, 1870, E. G. Buhrle Fondation, Zurich

The later paintings from Pontoise include “Climbing Path” which I’ve written about previously in this blog. “View of the Hermitage” shows Pissarro’s interest in using a screen of trees that forces the eye to wander in and out with no place to rest, much like Pollock’s drip paintings. Of course, the famous “Hoarfrost,” featured in this blog before, is present and continues to intrigue the viewer.

285 Hoarfrost copy

Hoar Frost, 1873, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

 

The exhibition includes a large number of figure paintings, including the “Young Girl with a Stick,” which is used in posters for the exhibition. One of my favorites, The Little Maid” makes me marvel at Pissarro’s composition where he plays rectangular doors and the diagonal broomstick against the circular edge of the table and the curves of the chairs.

Young Girl with Stick

Young Girl with a Stick, 1881, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

One of the biggest surprises was the large group of fans painted by Pissarro. The shape of the fan presents interesting composition problems for artists. Pissarro painted them because they didn’t take too long, and he could sell them at a price that almost anyone could afford, unlike his paintings.

Berger et moutons

Shepherd and Sheet, 1890, gouache and crayon on silk, Perez Simon Collection, Mexico City, Mexico.

One of the stars of the show was Pissarro’s pointillist painting from Philadelphia Museum of Art, “l’Ile Lacroix, effect of fog,” which is simply incredible in its use of greys, blues, and yellows, reminding one of a Rothko painting.

l'Isle La Croix

The Seine at Rouen, Isle Lacroix, effect of fog, 1888, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

 

Another masterpiece is “The Gathering of the Apples,” which has a mysterious square shadow set diagonally against its square canvas. The positions of the three women form a triangle over the shadow, all of it painted with millions of tiny dots.

Gathering Apples

The Gatherine of Apples, 1886, Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan

The paintings from Eragny include one of my favorites, “Autumn, Poplars, Eragny” from Denver. The mixture of yellows and orange with a myriad of greens is breathtaking.

Autumn, Poplars, Eragny

Autumn, Poplars, Eragny, 1894, Denver Art Museum, Denver

The cityscapes include a wonderful rainy Paris scene looking down the boulevard to the Opera Garnier. “The Boieldieu Bridge, Rouen, effect of fog” offers an intriguing view of the Seine filled with boats, and at the bottom of the canvas, a steam train chugs along the quai, its steam adding to the haze, creating a vision in blue and gray.

Of course, the exhibition would not be complete without a self-portrait of the artist, and the curator chose one that is seldom seen. Pissarro, looking in a mirror, pictures himself in his artist’s smock and a beret, easel in one hand, brush in the other. His gray-white beard is a flurry of quick brushstrokes, and his eyes peer out from behind large round glasses. There are extra brushstrokes in the lower left corner that appear to make his smock longer, but don’t. Isn’t that just like Pissarro to always give us something to question, something to wonder about!

 

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PISSARRO’S PLACES ARE IN NORMANDY THIS SUMMER!!

TINYnorm logoJPEG           

                   OF COURSE, you say.  Everyone knows that Pissarro painted in Rouen, Le Havre, and Dieppe, all of them in the heart of Normandy!!  But this is 2013 and there’s more! 

PISSARRO’S PLACES has just been chosen to be part of the

Normandie Impressionniste Festival 2013!

Last week the Scientific Committee of the Festival reviewed material from the book PISSARRO’S PLACES and gave it a place among a few other publications officially endorsed by the Festival!  They will soon place the book on their website on their Publications page. PISSARRO’S PLACES is, in fact, the only English-language book to be included.

The first Normandie Impressionniste Festival was held in 2010, and it took France by storm, drawing locals and tourists alike to a summer full of artistic events, including a superb art exhibition at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Rouen.

The 2013 Festival promises to surpass the last one, with four superb art exhibitions in museums at Rouen, Caen, Giverny, and Le Havre. PISSARRO’S PLACES fits  in with all the exhibitions, especially with the one at Musée Malraux in Le Havre, Pissarro and the Ports. In fact, a whole chapter of the book PISSARRO’S PLACES is devoted to the city of Le Havre and Pissarro’s experiences painting their harbors.

The Normandie Impressionniste Festival has an extraordinary website in French, English and a host of other languages that describes all the events that run from late April through September.  Check it out:  http://www.normandie-impressionniste.eu/

PISSARRO’S PLACES will be published in April.

Watch for news of a website and a book launch promotion.

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 THE PORTS–MORE INFORMATION PER REQUEST

seine at rouen saint sever The Seine at Rouen, Saint Sever, 1896, Musee d’Orsay, Paris, PDR 1122

 One of our readers requested more information about the Pissarro exhibition at Le Havre.  Here you are.  For more details: http://www.normandie-impressionniste.eu/node/6

Pissarro and the Ports – Rouen, Dieppe, Le Havre

Musée d’Art moderne André Malraux – Le Havre

27 April–29 September 2013

“The full dimension of the port motif was realized by Camille Pissarro in an important series of three Norman ports, Rouen, Dieppe and Le Havre, that he worked on between 1883 and 1903.

“The exhibition “Pissarro in the Ports” will bring together for the first time thirty or so of these works, most of which have been loaned from public and private collections abroad. Works by Eugène Boudin and Maxime Maufra will complement the set. The exhibition will end with works that are almost contemporary with those of Pissarro, and demonstrate the extent of the rupture that occurred in painting in the first years of the twentieth century.”

Musée d’art moderne André Malraux

2 Boulevard Clemenceau

76 600 Le Havre

Le Havre is reached easily by car or by a short train ride from Paris or Rouen. See  www.sncf.com/en/passengers for more information.

PISSARRO EXHIBITION AT LE HAVRE THIS SUMMER

Memphis Le Havre

Entrance to the Harbour at Le Havre With the

West Breakwater, Sunlight, Morning

1903

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN

PDR 1525

Will this wonderful painting by Pissarro be among those in the new exhibition in Le Havre that opens April 29?  The exhibition, part of the NORMANDY IMPRESSIONIST FESTIVAL, is called Pissarro and the Ports–Rouen, Dieppe, Le Havre and will be at the  Musée d’Art moderne André Malraux – Le Havre from 27 April–29 September 2013. Of course, I will be in Le Havre to see if this intriguing painting will travel from Memphis Tennessee for the exhibition!

At the entrace to Le Havre harbor, the jetty and semaphore, the flag-bedecked structure on the right, are clearly visible. The semaphore was used to transmit messages to ships long before they approached the harbor. The large variety of flags may indicate weather changes or heavy traffic in the harbor.

Two sailboats on the left stay well out of the way as a small steamboat enters the harbor. On the actual canvas, we can see two dark images on the horizon (not easily visible in photographs), possibly other ships waiting their turn to dock. Could Pissarro have been using binoculars to look out to sea? They would have been useful for spotting details from his balcony window.

Pissarro’s strong asymmetrical composition accents the colorful semaphore. He placed it at the point of a sharp angle formed by the dark diagonal of the breakwater and the ocean’s horizon. Like many of the Le Havre series, this painting devotes most of the canvas to the sky. The bright sunlight creates long shadows on the dock and pushes away the thin gauzy clouds. Its reflection has tinted the calm sea a light translucent green, which fades into a thin lilac strip where the ocean meets the sky. Despite the obvious nautical activity on this busy morning, the sense of calmness is heightened by the lightness of the sky and sea.

This historic photo showing the same dock demonstrate’s Pissarro’s genius for making something beautiful out of a scene that could be thought mundane!

dock

PISSARRO’S PLACES, the book, features a whole chapter on Le Havre and includes another painting by Pissarro of the docks, one of the two that Pissarro sold to the Musee Malraux in Le Havre. The book will be published in April. More details to come…..

WHAT IS THAT SHINING OBJECT?

Quai de Paris and the Pont Corneille, Rouen, Sunshine

1883, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PDR 727

 Pissarro’s paintings often leave us with unanswered questions; that’s part of the allure of his artistry. We might not notice the shining arch on the left over the bridge if the sail of the red boat did not point to it. In reality, it is not what it seems or what we might imagine.

There’s plenty to look at in this sun-drenched painting made by Pissarro in the fall of 1883 during his first painting expedition to Rouen. During this visit, he walked to his locations on both sides of the Seine, carrying his easel on his back.  He wrote his son Lucien, “I began a motif on the edge of the river [actually the quai de Paris on the right bank] moving up towards the church of Saint-Paul; looking towards Rouen, you have on the right all the houses on the quays lit up by the morning sun, in the background the pont de Pierre (Pont Corneille), on the left the island [the Île Lacroix] with its houses, factories, boats, rowing-boats on the right, a cluster of big barges of all colours.”

The right lower quadrant of this painting is filled with heavy objects–buildings and barges. The rest of the painting is dominated by the lightness of sky and water. Yet the painting feels perfectly balanced. That’s the genius of Pissarro.

We are standing on the quai, along with two men at the canvas’s right edge.  Our eyes follow the sweeping curve of the riverside to the buildings and back across the bridge. Just before we reach the other side, this shining thing appears.  It’s not part of the clouds—its white is completely different from the darker clouds behind it. It looks like an apparition, but we know of Pissarro’s distaste for symbolism.

The truth became clear in 2010 at the superb exhibition, A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro and Gauguin, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen that included this painting. The bridge Pissarro painted is Pont Corneille, which connected Rouen with Saint-Sever, the town across the river. At that time, there was a suspension bridge upriver from Pont Corneille. Built in 1836, it was called the “wire bridge” because of the fragile appearance of its cables. While the bridge itself was not visible from Pissarro’s location, the shiny arch that supported the bridge’s cables rose above the level of Pont Corneille. In this case, Pissarro was painting exactly what he saw.  The historic photograph below shows the “wire bridge” with its arch.

Pissarro made three more paintings from that location during this visit, but the shining arch is barely noticeable. Did he feel it was a distraction? He probably continued to paint what he saw. However, the skies in the other paintings are filled with clouds, allowing for little reflection on the shining object.

The shining arch disappeared before Pissarro’s next painting excursion to Rouen thirteen years later. The old suspension bridge was replaced by a new iron bridge, Pont Boieldieu in 1888.  Pissarro painted the new Pont Boieldieu as many as 16 times during his next three visits to Rouen. It stood until June 1940, when it was destroyed by the French Army to slow the advance of German troops. The current Pont Boieldieu was finally opened in 1955.

                 [Photo from collection of the author]

Resources: Pissarro: Critical Catalog (2005) Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Shoellaerts

A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro and Gauguin (2010) Exhibition catalog



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