Lot 51
  • 51

Camille Pissarro

Estimate
1,500,000 - 2,000,000 GBP
Sold
1,925,000 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Camille Pissarro
  • Maison de paysans
  • signed C. Pissarro and dated 1892 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

Tadamasa Hayashi, Paris & Tokyo (sale: American Art Association, New York, 8th & 9th January 1913, lot 145)

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

Literature

Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro & Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro. Son art - son œuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, no. 811, catalogued p. 195

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

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1892, the present work is a wonderfully rich and atmospheric depiction of the poplar fields near Pissarro’s house in Éragny, a small village on the banks of the river Epte. Pissarro and his family moved to Éragny, situated some three kilometres from Gisors, in the spring of 1884. In July 1892 Pissarro purchased the house his family had been renting for the previous eight years with the financial help of Claude Monet, who lived in the neighbouring Giverny. The house exists to this day, in a street named after the artist. Pissarro was delighted with the tranquillity of his new environment, and with the endless source of inspiration it offered him. In a letter to his son Lucien dated 1st March 1884, the artist wrote: ‘Yes, we’ve made up our minds on Éragny-sur-Epte. The house is superb and inexpensive: a thousand francs, with garden and meadow. It’s two hours from Paris. I found the region much more beautiful than Compiègne […] Gisors is superb: we’d seen nothing!’ (quoted in J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., p. 499). This was to be the Pissarro family home until the death of his wife Julie in 1928, and remained his principal source of rural subject matter for the late landscapes (fig. 1 & 2). It was here that he set up his “School of Éragny” for his numerous children, who assisted their father on his painting jaunts in the surrounding countryside.

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).

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