343
343

PROPERTY FROM THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE ACQUISITIONS FUND

Camille Pissarro
TERRE LABOURÉE EN HIVER, AVEC UN HOMME PORTANT UN FAGOT
JUMP TO LOT
343

PROPERTY FROM THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE ACQUISITIONS FUND

Camille Pissarro
TERRE LABOURÉE EN HIVER, AVEC UN HOMME PORTANT UN FAGOT
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Camille Pissarro
1830 - 1903
TERRE LABOURÉE EN HIVER, AVEC UN HOMME PORTANT UN FAGOT
signed C. Pissarro and dated 77 (lower left)
oil on canvas
38.9 by 46.5cm., 15 3/8 by 18 3/8 in.
Painted in 1877.
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Provenance

Ernest May, Paris
Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on 20th May 1882)
Catholina Lambert, Paterson, New Jersey (acquired from the above on 25th April 1888; his sale: American Art Association, New York, 21st - 24th February 1916, lot 112)
Durand-Ruel, New York (purchased at the above sale)
Conrad H. Lester, California (acquired from the above on 3rd November 1943)
Sam Salz, New York (sale: Sotheby's, New York, 9th November 1955, lot 77)
Maribel G. Blum, Chicago
Bequeathed by the above to the present owner in 1986

Exhibited

New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings - Camille Pissarro, 1936, no. 3

Literature

The Art News, 14th March 1936, p. 8
Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro & Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro: son art, son œuvre, Paris, 1939, no. 381, illustrated n.p.
Annual report, The Art Institute pf Chicago, 1985-86, p. 71
Richard R. Brettell, Pissarro and Pontoise, the Painter in the Landscape, New Haven, 1990, illustrated p. 176
Joachim Pissarro & Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. II, no. 484, illustrated in colour p. 343

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1877, Terre labourée en hiver, avec un homme portant un fagot depicts a landscape near the town of Pontoise, where Pissarro lived with his family from 1866 until 1883. Executed in quick gestural strokes of soft pastel colours, this luminous, wintery landscape shows the artist at the height of his Impressionist style. In deciding to move to Pontoise, Pissarro was partly guided by a desire to separate himself from the influence of his predecessors, the established French landscape painters, and to depict an environment previously scarcely recorded by other masters. Located some twenty-five miles northwest of Paris, Pontoise was built on a hilltop, with the river Oise passing through it, elements which made it a highly picturesque environment in which to paint en plein air. The town's economy included agriculture as well as industry, and offered Pissarro a wide range of subjects, from crowded semi-urban genre scenes, views of roads and factories, to farmers working on the fields and isolated landscapes devoid of human presence.

Pontoise offered Pissarro many opportunities to depict rural labour and the harvest, in particular. In his seminal book, Pissarro and Pontoise, Richard Brettell relates the present work directly to one of the artist’s most important paintings on the theme: Gelée blanche, ancienne route d’Ennery, Pontoise (fig. 1). In representing figures in nature, Pissarro’s interest lay not so much in documenting a specific scene, but in depicting a vision of colour and form that included the harmonious presence of peasants and rural life. In the present work, Pissarro depicts a man carrying fagots on his back up a hillside path towards a central leafless tree under which his companion waits, shoulders hunched against the wind; although they are relatively small in scale, the figures are placed at the focal point of the composition, where the sweeping horizon meets the cloud-dotted sky. They are locked into the landscape by association and alignment with natural form; they are equally natural, equally indigenous. As Joachim Pissarro has written about Pissarro's depictions of rural life, 'Pissarro's figures [....] do not purport to convey an exact account of what female and male peasants actually looked like in northern France during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. While they are not allegories, neither are they sociological documents. It is from this difficulty, which is both essential and highly characteristic of Pissarro's figure paintings—i.e., the fact that they are resistant to conveying any message and to being 'read' as sociological or anthropological witnesses of the raw facts—that manifold interpretations of Camille Pissarro's work have arisen' (Joachim Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 157).

A sumptuously painted, sophisticated work, Terre labourée en hiver, avec un homme portant un fagot has a remarkably prestigious history. Bequeathed to the Art Institute of Chicago by Maribel Blum in 1986 and now presented for sale to benefit the acquisition fund, the present work was originally acquired directly from the artist by one of Pissarro’s earliest patrons, Ernest May, shortly after its completion. Later acquired from May by Paul Durand-Ruel, it then entered the collection of the East Coast textile magnate Catholina Lambert (1834-1923). Lambert built a palatial estate, known as Bella Vista or Lambert Castle, for his vast art collection in Patterson, New Jersey, but later lost much of his fortune and was ultimately compelled to sell his collection at auction in 1916 to pay off his debts.

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