- Camille Pissarro
- Maison de paysans
- signed C. Pissarro and dated 1892 (lower left)
- oil on canvas
D.J.R. Ushikubo, Japan (purchased at the above sale)
Baron Kojiro Matsukata, Kobe
The 15th Bank, Japan (acquired circa 1927)
Private Collection, Japan (acquired from the above circa 1930)
Private Collection (acquired from the family of the above. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 5th February 2008, lot 67)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Old Matsukata Collection, 1990, no. 1196, illustrated p. 321
Joachim Pissarro & Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro. Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, no. 957, illustrated in colour p. 627
During these years Pissarro liked to alternate between urban and rural subjects. He often went to harbour cities like Rouen and Le Havre, to Paris where he met with friends as well as art dealers, and to London, where he was visiting his sons. Exhausted by frequent travels, the artist would return to the peace of Éragny, where he enjoyed painting the garden and the meadow in front of his house, as well as the neighbouring villages of Gisors and Bazincourt and the villagers at work in the fields. 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). Pissarro never tired of depicting this region, exploring the changing light effects in various seasons and weather conditions. In the present work, he depicted this beloved place on a sunny morning, with the shimmering effect of the early morning light on the trees and foliage and the long shadows of the poplar trees spreading over the meadow.
The critical and commercial success of Pissarro’s first major retrospective which was held at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris in January 1892, brought a new confidence and stability to his life. In 1893 he was sixty-three years old. One of the most prominent avant-garde painters of his generation, Pissarro had achieved enormous success as both an Impressionist and a Neo-Impressionist painter. Adjusting certain elements from his classic Impressionist period of the 1870s, and combining them with characteristics of his Neo-Impressionist style of the 1880s, in the early 1890s Pissarro began developing a fresh approach to painting. That new found stability is reflected in the present work, as its sense of unity and harmony between nature and the man-made world is particularly strong, and it expresses the painter’s profound belief in the ideal of a society based on egalitarian principles.
In his review for the 1892 exhibition published in Le Figaro, the writer Octave Mirbeau described the artist’s visual concerns: ‘The eye of the artist, like the mind of the thinker, discovers the larger aspects of things, their wholeness and unity. Even when he paints figures in scenes of rustic life, man is always seen in perspective in the vast terrestrial harmony, like a human plant. To describe the drama of the earth and to move our hearts, M. Pissarro does not need violent gestures, complicated arabesques and sinister branches against livid skies […] An orchard, with its apple trees in rows, its brick houses in the background and some women under the trees, bending and gathering the apples which have fallen to the ground, and a whole life is evoked, a dream rises up, soars, and such a simple thing, so familiar to our eyes, transforms itself into an ideal vision, amplified and raised to a great decorative poetry’ (quoted in Ralph E. Shikes & Paula Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, New York, 1980, pp. 261-262).