PAINTED LIGHT: WORKS FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN COLLECTION SOLD TO BENEFIT CHARITABLE CAUSES
During the years spent in Éragny, Pissarro liked to alternate between urban and rural scenes. He often went to harbor cities like Rouen and Le Havre, to Paris where he met with friends as well as dealers, and to London, where he would visit his sons. Exhausted by frequent travels, the artist would return to the peace of Éragny, where he took joy in painting the garden and the meadow in front of his house, as well as the neighboring villages of Gisors and Bazincourt. Henceforth, Éragny became the focal point of Pissarro’s art, and as Joachim Pissarro has observed: "His representations of these fields and gardens constitute the most spectacularly intense pictorial effort to ‘cover’ a particular given space in his career" (J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, London, 1993, p. 225).
Prairie avec vaches, brume, soleil couchant à Éragny is painted in the neo-Impressionist divisionist style that Pissarro first displayed during the eighth and final Impressionist exhibition in 1886, and which he would develop over the following years. In Pissarro’s opinion, Impressionism was already waning in 1883. It was at this time that he embraced the Neo-Impressionist technique, under the influence of Seurat, who proclaimed Pissarro to be the first of the Impressionist painters to convert to the Neo-Impressionist style. The present work is a stunning example of Pissarro’s version of pointillism, using short, fragmented brushstrokes to capture the dazzling effect of a sunset over a meadow and to create vivid color contrasts between the bright setting sun, the dark trees already in the shadow and the bleached quality of the fog that envelops the cows grazing in the field.
Painted in 1891, the present work was exhibited at Durand-Ruel in Paris in January-February of the following year. In his review written for L’Estafette, the contemporary critic Clément Janin described the present work: "M. Pissarro hardly ever uses the brush any more, only the knife, not from haste, not from an inspired artist’s furia, but to give more scope to the dazzle of light in the compositions he paints. The asperities he multiplies serve to capture and trap the rays of light and when the sun shines forth the colors suddenly sparkle like a jeweller’s window. This is particularly discernible in this glorious sunset…where the ebbing daystar sinks like a luminous fire bomb into the jewel-like radiance of the west, behind a forest in its mourning weeds of dark amethyst, where the sapphire streaks of verdure drained of color—the reflections of expired joys—strew their coruscation" (C. Janin, quoted in J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., p. 596).
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