Lot 38
  • 38

Camille Pissarro

1,400,000 - 1,800,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Camille Pissarro
  • La Seine à Bougival   
  • signed C. Pissarro and dated 1871 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas


Galerie Durand Ruel, Paris (acquired by 1891)

Guillaume Ibos, Paris (sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, La Collection G. Ibos de l'Opéra  - Tableaux Modernes, 19th June 1900, lot 27)

F. Stumpf, Paris (acquired by 1904. Sold: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, La Collection de feu M. F. Stumpf, 7th May 1906, lot 73)

Galerie Durand-Ruel & Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (purchased jointly at the above sale)

Arnold Behrens (acquired from the above on 23rd March 1910)

Captain Richard A. Peto,  London & Bembridge, Isle of Wight (acquired circa 1951)

Mrs Rosemary Peto, London (widow of the above; acquired in 1963)

The Lefevre Gallery, London (acquired from the above in July 1971)

Ronald Lyon, Sunningdale & London

Mrs Ernest Kanzler, Detroit (sold: Christie’s, London, 1st July 1974, lot 9)

Piccadilly Gallery, London (purchased at the above sale)

Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in 1974. Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, 3rd November 2008, lot 20)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Camille Pissarro, 1904, no. 11

London, The Arts Council of Great Britain, French Paintings: A Second Selection from Mr. Peto's Collection, 1951, no. 21

London, Marlborough Fine Art, French Masters of the XIXth and XXth Centuries, 1951, no. 38, illustrated in the catalogue

London, Marlborough Fine Art, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley, 1955, no. 4, illustrated in the catalogue

London, Marlborough Fine Art, A Selection of Important XIXth Century French Masters, 1960, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue

Plymouth, Plymouth City Art Gallery, French Impressionists and English Paintings and Sculpture from the Peto Collection, 1960, no. 61, illustrated in the catalogue

London, Marlborough Fine Art, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century French Paintings from English Private Collections, 1965, no. 27, illustrated in the catalogue

London, Marlborough Fine Art, Pissarro in England, 1968, no. 2, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Opening Exhibition of the Lotte and Walter Floersheimer Pavilion for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art, 1979

Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich (on loan 1984)

London, Hayward Gallery; Birmingham, City Museum and Art Gallery & Glasgow, The Burrell Collection, Camille Pissarro: Impressionism, Landscape and Rural Labour, 1990, no. 9, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Jerusalem, The Israel Museum & New York, The Jewish Museum, Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Innovator, 1994-95, no. 37, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

London, Royal Academy of Arts; Tokyo, Sezon Museum of Art & Nagoya, Matsuzakaya Art Museum, From Manet to Gauguin: Masterpieces from Swiss Private Collections, 1995, no. 45 (no. 40 in Tokyo & Nagoya), illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Rome, Complesso Monumentale del Vittoriano, Da Corot a Monet. La sinfonia della natura, 2010, no. 6, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Julius Meier-Graefe, ‘Camille Pissarro’, in Kunst und Künstler, Berlin, September 1904, mentioned p. 481

Vittorio Pica, Gl'Impressionisti francesi, Bergamo, 1908, illustrated (titled Lungo il fiume)

Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro & Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro: son art, son œuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, no. 122, catalogued p. 96; vol. II, no. 122, illustrated pl. 24

Ralph E. Shikes & Paula Harper, Pissarro, His Life and Work, London, Melbourne & New York, 1980, illustrated in colour p. 100

Christopher Lloyd, Camille Pissarro, Geneva, 1981, illustrated p. 52

Christopher Lloyd, Studies on Camille Pissarro, London & New York, 1986, mentioned p. 92

Joachim Pissarro & Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro. Critical Catalogue of Paintings, Paris, vol. II, 2005, no. 200, illustrated in colour p. 171

Catalogue Note

La Seine à Bougival, painted in 1871, is a remarkable and highly evocative work from the beginning of Pissarro’s Impressionist period. Pissarro had already realized the expressive potential for depicting the effects of shadow and light reflecting off the water, and in the present work rays of afternoon sun fall between the trees on the river bank and across the waters of the river. The present work is a balance between a traditionally idyllic pastoral scene which also bears witness to the naissance of modern industrial France. The composition is focused on various elements which counteract each other such as the heavily-laden steam boat and the tall-masted barges or the dourly dressed angler and the leisurely posed scarlet clothed stroller on the towpath. When Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro included this picture in his 1939 catalogue raisonné, he misidentified the location as Marly, but given the architectural features along the banks of the river, Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts were able to correctly identify the scene as Bougival. The town had, since the 1860s, become increasingly popular as a resort for Parisians keen to escape the ever-growing urban sprawl of the capital. The banks of the river at Bougival and neighbouring Port-Marly were largely untouched by the industrialisation that had affected larger towns further up river, such as Asnières, and Pissarro and his fellow Impressionists included small details such as bathing huts which evoked the faintly bucolic air that still clung to the farther reaches of the Seine (fig. 1). However, the bustling waterways were to prove a particular fascination for Pissarro who reprised the theme in another canvas of 1872 which is now in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (fig. 2).

In December 1870, assisted by a 300 franc loan from some friends of his neighbour Ludovic Piette, Pissarro and his young family were able to sail from Saint-Malo to England. The increasingly dangerous situation in Paris due to the Prussian invasion had left Pissarro and many of his fellow painters, including Claude Monet, with the difficult decision of enlisting or helping their families to safety. The months Pissarro spent in England were to prove financially disastrous - with only two sales (both to Durand-Ruel) and little or no interest from British collectors - but were very enriching artistically. The industrial landscapes surrounding London offered Pissarro subject matter that he had not before taken into consideration, and this picture illustrates a newfound fascination with the growth and expansion of the industrial suburbs of France. Here, as in his picture of the locomotive engine in Lordship Lane Station (fig. 3), a great plume of smoke rises from the stack of the steamboat along the river. A sign of modern ingenuity, the boat appears just as natural amidst the landscape as the trees and the banks of the river and illustrates the ever-increasing integration of the rural and the urban. The celebration of modern life would become a defining motif among the Impressionist painters in the 1870s, and this picture marks one of Pissarro's first attempts at incorporating this theme into his own work.

Pissarro returned to France in July 1871. When he arrived at his home in Louveciennes after his time away, he found that it had been occupied by Prussians and pillaged - his spare canvases used for aprons and cleaning tasks - which eventually led him to leave for Pontoise the following year. The present work is one of the few pictures that he painted in the vicinity of Paris that year and shows no sign of the disruption of the past months.  As Ralph E. Shikes and Paula Harper comment: ‘Philosophical about his loss, Camille went back to work “serenely”, according to his friend Lecomte […] his response to a setback was usually to plunge into work. […] As he later expressed it to the critic and novelist Octave Mirbeau, “Work is a marvellous regulator of moral and physical health. All the sadnesses, all the bitterness, all the grief, I am unaware of them, in the joy of working”’. Nonetheless, as Shikes and Harper point out, this tendency produced outstanding results: ‘The Louveciennes paintings, such as Orchard at Louveciennes and Banks of the Seine at Marly [the present work], are particularly beautiful. He had synthesised the new Impressionist techniques with his own delicate palette. His vision of similar scenes of France was fresher after his absence’ (R.E. Shikes & P. Harper, op. cit., p. 101).