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    Sale 2046

    Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

    6 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 109

    Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)


    Price Realised  


    Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
    signed, inscribed and dated 'C. Pissarro. Eragny-1890. I Aôut' (lower left)
    watercolor and pencil on paper
    9 x 11 5/8 in. (22.9 x 29.5 cm.)
    Executed on 1 August 1890

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    Dr. Joachim Pissarro has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    In 1884, Camille Pissarro moved his family from their cramped house in Osny to Eragny-sur-Epte, a small village of roughly 500 inhabitants on the river Epte, northwest of Paris. He borrowed funds from Monet to purchase this new residence, which comfortably accommodated his wife and their five youngest children. The painter wrote to a friend, "Yes, we've made up our minds on Eragny-sur-Epte. The house is superb and inexpensive: a thousand francs, with garden and meadow. It's two hours from Paris" (quoted in J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, p. 499). From the window of his new studio, Pissarro was able to observe their large garden and the sweeping meadows that led across the river to the neighboring town of Bazincourt, which was marked by its distinctive church steeple. This view became one of the painter's preferred motifs, and he captured it both from his elevated studio, and, more frequently, from a vantage point on his property or in the fields, as seen here. Over the next ten years, he executed roughly forty views of the belfry seen from varying distances, at different times of day (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, nos. 839, 851, 873), in diverse weather conditions (nos. 763, 808, 838, 864) and in all four seasons.

    Pissarro painted well over 100 watercolors of Eragny, which he arranged in series within portfolios and often marked with notes regarding the weather conditions. This body of work was a discrete field of artistic activity that remained independent from the oil paintings that Pissarro labored over inside his studio. Remarking on the distinguishing pictorial structure of the present work and related watercolors, Emily Braun has noted, "They either have underdrawing in pencil or ink or are executed in pure color washes, as the [present] view of Eragny. Here Pissarro defines the undulating surface of the meadow with a repetitive structure of ovoid brushstrokes. The watercolor medium was particularly well suited to capturing the transitory meteorological effects, as well as the artist's emotional reactions while directly observing nature. In this regard, they represent Pissarro's return to the Impressionist focus on pure sensation" (in E. Braun et al., op. cit., p. 144).

    Indeed, the overlapping washes in the present scene evoke the hazy brightness of a bucolic pasture on a hot summer day, which is documented as August 1, 1890. The work reveals more of the church's structure that is typical for this series, but like similar views in and around Eragny, it captures a sense of agrarian serenity that is undisturbed by signs of encroaching industry. This peacefulness was a quality that Pissarro especially admired after a prolonged stay in Paris. A few months before painting the present work, he described such a return to Eragny, stating, "It's very restful for me, being here in the middle of the countryside. This brouhaha of Paris throws us into such a different world that, when you get back, it takes a few to recover your sensations" (quoted in J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., p. 220).


    Anon. sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 20 April 1950, lot 26.
    Gimpel Fils, London.
    Alex and Rita K. Hillman, New York (acquired from the above, May 1955). Gift from the above to the present owner, October 1968.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation*


    E. Braun, et al., Manet to Matisse, The Hillman Family Collection, Seattle and London, 1994, p. 144, no. 51 (illustrated in color, p. 145).


    New York, Bronx Museum of Arts, Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, April-May 1972.
    Laramie, The University of Wyoming Art Center, The Hillman Collection, November 1972.
    Jacksonville Art Museum and Corpus Christi, Art Museum of South Texas, The Alex Hillman Collection, October 1973-January 1974, no. 8.
    Phoenix Art Museum, Selections from the Alex Hillman Collection, January-February 1975.
    Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, Modern Masters: Paintings and Drawings from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, December 1977-February 1978, no. 27 (illustrated).
    Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Museum of Art; Hunstville, Alabama, Hunstville Museum of Art; St. Petersburg, Florida, Museum of Fine Arts; Lawrence, University of Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art; Huntington, West Virginia, Huntington Gallery; Little Rock, Arkansas Art Center; Williamsburg, Virginia, College of William and Mary, Joseph and Margaret Muscarelle Museum of Art and Ames, Iowa State University, Brunnier Gallery and Museum, Selections from the Collection of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, August 1980-November 1985.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Exhibition of Works from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, February 1986-January 1987.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Modern Masters: French Art from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation Collection, June-August 1988.
    Phoenix, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Paintings and Drawings from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, December 1991-May 1992.

    Post Lot Text

    *This lot may be exempt from sales tax as set forth in the Sales Tax Notice in the back of the catalogue.