Private Collection (by descent from the above. Sold: Sotheby’s, Paris, 23rd March 2018, lot 204)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Janine Bailly-Herzberg, Pissarro et Paris, Paris, 1992, illustrated p. 127 (titled Pont Royal, après-midi, temps gris)
Joachim Pissarro & Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, no. 1487, illustrated in colour p. 900
Beginning with the Gare Saint-Lazare in 1897, Pissarro’s depictions of Paris swiftly moved on to the Boulevard Montmartre and the Boulevard des Italiens. The following year, he painted a series of views of the Avenue de l’Opéra and the Jardins des Tuileries before painting the nearby Square du Vert-Galant and the Pont Neuf. Each time the artist would stay in a hotel room or rent an apartment allowing him to paint from his window and repeat the motif in different variations reflecting the changing light, weather or season. Le Pont-Royal, après-midi, temps couvert belongs to his fourth and final series created from the artist’s room at the Hôtel du Quai Voltaire on the left bank, overlooking the Pont Royal and the Jardins des Tuileries. A closely related painting from the same year, Le Pont-Royal et le pavillon de Flore, temps gris now in the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris shows the same scene from a slightly different angle on the Quai Voltaire including the south-west end of the Louvre (fig. 1).
From the artist’s position in his apartment we are offered a higher viewpoint than at street level. It creates a broad field of vision in which Pissarro was able to observe and capture the constant flow of city life. Pedestrians and carriages are captured with hurried brushstrokes emphasising the dynamic movement of the metropolis. The richly painted sky in the upper half of the canvas beautifully illustrates Pissarro’s appreciation of texture and brushwork and its ability to convey liberty, spontaneity and the sense of freshness that were key to the artist’s œuvre.
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