Lot 52
  • 52

CAMILLE PISSARRO | La Mère Jolly raccommodant

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Camille Pissarro
  • La Mère Jolly raccommodant
  • Signed C. Pissarro. and dated 1874 (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 39 1/2 by 31 5/8 in.
  • 100.3 by 80.3 cm
  • Painted in 1874.


Estate of the artist (and sold: Galerie Georges Petit, Collection Camille Pissarro, Paris, December 3, 1928, lot 29)

Gabriel Picard, Paris (acquired at the above sale and until at least 1936)

M. Hinderling, Switzerland

Galerie Schmit, Paris (acquired from the above)

Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above in 1971)

Acquavella Galleries, New York 

Mr. & Mrs. Josef Rosensaft, New York (acquired from the above in 1973 and sold: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, March 17, 1976, lot 9)

Sir Charles Clore, London (acquired at the above sale)

Alan Clore, London (by descent from the above and sold: Christie's, London, June 27, 1988, lot 79)

Private Collection, New York (acquired at the above sale)

Private Collection, Japan (acquired from the above in 1989)

Private Collection, Japan (acquired circa 2000) 

Sale: Christie's, New York, November 7, 2001, lot 130

Galerie Fabien Boulakia, Paris

Acquired from the above on February 22, 2002


Paris, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Exposition rétrospective d'oeuvres de Camille Pissarro, 1914, no. 6

Paris, Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Les Premières Époques de Camille Pissarro (1858-84), 1936, no. 16 

Paris, Galerie André Weil, Pissarro, 1950, no. 8, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, Isetan Museum; Osaka, Daimaru Museum; Fukuoka, Mitsukoshi Gallery; Mie, Mie Prefectural Art Museum & Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, Camille Pissarro and the Pissarro Family, 1998, no. 25, illustrated in color in the catalogue


La Renaissance de l'art français, no. 12, Paris, December 1928, illustrated p. 502

Le Figaro artistique, Paris, January 10, 1929, p. 221

Ludovico Rodo Pissarro & Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro, Son art - son oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1939, no. 271, p. 118; vol. II, illustrated pl. 54 

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, L'Oeil, Paris, February 1974, p. 55

Janine Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, vol. I, Paris, 1980, p. 95 

Joachim Pissarro & Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. II, Paris, 2005, no. 368, illustrated in color p. 281

Catalogue Note

Facing poor sales and tepid, if not hostile, critical responses to the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, artists such as Pissarro were advised by critic Théodore Duret to concentrate on developing distinct and individualized styles in their painting. To Pissarro, he recommended a focus on rural imagery, requiring the artist to leave Paris and the urban and suburban scenes favored by other painters. Trusting Duret’s counsel, Pissarro soon accepted the invitation of his dear friend Ludovic Piette and embarked upon a three-year investigation of the “true countryside” of Montfoucault, where Piette owned a large farm (J. Bailly-Herzberg, op. cit., p. 95). Looking to the rural landscape of northwestern France, as well as to the work of Millet (see fig. 1)—whom the artist respected as one of the few serious painters of such scenes—Pissarro found himself gravitating to the peasants and farmhands of the estate. Works from this time witness maids, sowers, plowmen and other servants diligently at work under cheery skies or within domestic enclaves on the farm (see fig. 2), despite his hesitations taking on such a well-mastered subject. In a letter to Duret, Pissarro discusses his progress and misgivings, stating “I haven’t worked badly here. I have been tackling figures and animals. I have several genre pictures. I am rather hesitant about going in for a branch of art in which first-rate artists have so distinguished themselves. It is a very bold thing to do, and I am afraid of making a complete failure of it” (ibid., p. 95).

Painted in 1874, La Mère Jolly raccommodant beautifully refutes the artist’s ungrounded fears. A carefully constructed composition, the present works depicts a maid at work, sewing in a verdant alcove just outside the farmhouse. Echoing the delicate blooms of pink and blue which frame Mère Jolly are the rich cornflower hues of her frock and sewing, as well as the vivid ladylike blush of her cheek. Interestingly, Pissarro’s anarchist inclinations reveal themselves in the tranquil scene, as the artist seemingly exalts the social standing of his sitter by portraying a humble servant with all the dignity (if not grandeur) of a noblewoman among her trappings and finery (see fig. 3). By naming his subjects, as he does with Mère Jolly and many other maids from this period, Pissarro gives voice to the oft-overlooked people at the heart of enterprise and domestic prosperity and invites an equivalency to the members of his own family he was depicting concurrently (see fig. 4).

A triumph of composition, structure and volume, La Mère Jolly raccommodant and Pissarro’s other work from his time in Montfoucault mark a turning point for the artist, who previously had not studied the human figure in such depth or with such grace. According to leading scholar Richard R. Brettell, “the paintings of 1874 show ample evidence of a change in both style and iconography. Pissarro’s facture became more dense and brushstrokes broader… His attention turned from distantly viewed landscapes to the concentrated space of the barnyard populated with figures and defined by complex arrangements of form… The sheer physicality of form—its weight, mass and proximity—became Pissarro’s overriding concern in the Montfoucault period and that reality was expressed in a manner matched in the period only by Cézanne” (R.R. Brettell, Pissarro and Pontoise, London, 1990, pp. 162-64). Hailing from one of the most focused and grounded periods in the Pissarro’s oeuvre, this distinguished genre scene offers rarely afforded insight not only into pre-industrialized French life, but also into that of the master painter himself.