Lot 6
  • 6

CAMILLE PISSARRO | Le Grand noyer au printemps, Éragny

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
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  • Camille Pissarro
  • Le Grand noyer au printemps, Éragny
  • Signed C. Pissarro, and dated 94 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 23 3/4 by 28 7/8 in.
  • 59.5 by 73.3 cm
  • Painted in 1894.


Maurice Leclanché, Paris (and sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 6, 1924, lot 76)

Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired at the above sale and until 1950)

Dr. Claude Lopez, Paris

Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London

Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above in April 1971 and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, November 11, 1999, lot 105)

Austin Galleries, Austin (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, May 8, 2007, lot 2)

Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux par Camille Pissarro, 1928, no. 66 (titled Noyer au printemps)

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paysages de L’Île-de-France, 1937

Atlanta, High Museum of Art, Georgia Collects, 1989, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue (titled Orchard Scene)


Vittorio Pica, Gl’Impressionisti francesi, Bergamo, 1908, illustrated p. 132 (titled Giardino al Eragny)

La Gazette de L’Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 8, 1924, p. 2

Le Figaro artistique, Paris, November 20, 1924, p. 93 (titled Deux femmes sous un grand arbre)

Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro & Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art – son oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1939, no. 878, p. 203; vol. II, illustrated pl. 178 (titled Le Noyer au printemps, Éragny)

Joachim Pissarro & Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. III, Paris, 2005, no. 1031, illustrated in color p. 662

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1894, Le Grand noyer au printemps, Éragny is a wonderfully rich and atmospheric depiction of a large nut tree near Pissarro’s house in Éragny, a small village on the banks of the river Epte (see fig. 1). Pissarro and his family moved to Éragny, situated some three kilometers 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 neighboring Giverny. The house exists to this day, on a street named after the artist. Pissarro was delighted with the tranquility of his new environment and the endless inspiration it offered him. In a letter to his son Lucien dated March 1, 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). The large nut tree at the center of the composition—Le Grand Noyer—featured in canvases from Pissarro’s earliest depictions of Éragny. A blaze of color in fall, bare branched and evocatively graceful in winter, full of greenery and blossoms in spring and summer—the nut tree became one of the recurring motifs of the Éragny period; he would continue to paint its branches until the final year of his life. During his years in Éragny, Pissarro would spend several months in more urban areas, from the boulevards of Paris to the bustling ports of Rouen and Le Havre and, occasionally, as far afield as London. He would see friends and dealers, meet new acquaintances and enjoy experiences diametrically opposed to his bucolic existence in Éragny. Inevitably he would return to the peace of the countryside, exhausted by his travels and with a renewed vigor that manifested in oils of his garden, the meadow in front of his house, the fields which surrounded him and the neighboring villages of Gisors and Bazincourt. It was both the landscape and the local people hard at work—harvesting, tending their animals, hawking their wares in the market—which continued to fascinate him (see figs. 2 & 3).

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. Adjusting certain elements from his classic Impressionist period of the 1870s and combining them with characteristics of his Neo-Impressionist style of the 1880s meant that by the early 1890s Pissarro developed an entirely fresh approach to painting. 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 R. E. Shikes & P. Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, New York, 1980, pp. 261-62).

Reflecting on his Éragny period as a whole, Joachim Pissarro, co-author of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, has examined the serial effect of these landscapes between 1893 and 1903: “He did dozens of views of the meadows in front of the house: ‘In my view’, he wrote to Lucien [his son], ‘our meadow at Éragny is a marvel compared to everything else I see… I would go back to Éragny [just] to work on trees.’ These paintings are perhaps the largest body of work devoted to the same motif ever painted. Not until On Kawara in the late twentieth century would a series depicting ordinary, everyday time extend over whole decades like this. For time is in fact the subject—or rather the substance—of Pissarro’s Éragny works…. The series encompasses decades, not just weeks or months; and one of the most striking things about it is its perception of the impact of time on nature. In 1892, Pissarro painted a small group of works on the theme of a lone tree—a spreading walnut—standing amid a few saplings… Five years later, the saplings too had become trees [see fig. 4]…. Pissarro’s vast cycle of Éragny landscapes is one of the most ambitious bodies of art there is, yet one could almost sum it up in a single gesture repeated again and again, like a routine task performed heedless of the future. Gazing at the hundreds of paintings that compose it, spanning fifteen years or more, is a dizzying experience indeed” (J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Critical Catalogue of Paintings, vol. I, Paris, 2005, pp. 89-90).