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Property from the Estate of Gabrielle Oppenheim-Errera
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Primrose Hill, Regent's Park

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Primrose Hill, Regent's Park
signed and dated bottom right 'C. Pissarro.1892'--titled on the stretcher 'Regents Park Primrose Hill'
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 32 in. (65.3 x 81 cm.)
Painted in 1892
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris
Acquired by the late owner before 1939
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art--son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 194, no. 804 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 165)
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Oeuvres récentes de Camille Pissarro, March, 1893, no. 37
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux, pastels et gouaches par Camille Pissarro, Jan.-Feb., 1921, no. 37
Princeton, University Art Museum, April, 1989-Sept., 1997 (on loan)

Lot Essay

Camille Pissarro painted this picture between May and August 1892 during his third visit to London. Pissarro came to London at that time because his eldest son, Lucien, sought counsel regarding his impending engagement to Esther Bensusan. Pissarro also hoped to arrange for an exhibition of his works in London and looked forward to painting again in a city he loved. Shortly before his trip, Pissarro wrote to Lucien, "I have decided to make some very free and some very vigorous things in London" (C. Pissarro, Letters to his son Lucien, New York, 1944, p. 198).

During his stay, he executed thirteen works on canvas, almost one a week. This pace, exceptional for the artist in the latter part of his career, reveals his joy in painting at that time. Of these pictures, all but two are views of Kew Gardens; the only exceptions are an image of Charing Cross Bridge (Pissarro and Venturi, no. 805; Private Collection), and Primrose Hill, Regent's Park. The present painting is by far the largest work that Pissarro made in London that summer. More significantly, Primrose Hill, Regent's Park is a work of exceptional beauty. Its extraordinary luminosity projecting through the diaphanous haze of fine brushwork gives the piece a breathtaking combination of radiance and delicacy. It is also exceptional for its open and spare composition-- a feature it shares with Le pont de Charing Cross, Londres but which distinguishes it from the paintings of Kew Gardens. In this regard, the painting resembles some of Pissarro's other masterpieces of the early 1890s, such as Hampton Court Green (Pissarro and Venturi, no. 746; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).

The present work reveals both the technical command and the aesthetic vision that critics have praised in Pissarro's works of the early 1890s. John Rewald has said:

Pissarro's execution became more subtle, his color scheme more refined, his drawing firmer... Pissarro approached old age with an increased mastery. (J. Rewald, Pissarro, New York, 1963, p. 41)

And Christopher Lloyd has written:

Pissarro's late canvases are characterized by a refined sense of colour. Rarely though are pigments applied in pure forms. As in the late 1870s, they are mixed on the palette beforehand and often brushed wet into wet, so that each stroke made with the brush was refulgent with different colours. Again, contrary to the tenets of Neo-Impressionism, Pissarro resorted to white with the result that during the 1890s the palette is generally paler... Close inspection of any small area of a late work by Pissarro, whatever the painting's subject, reveals a whole range of colour used in the search for a general effect. The degree of sophistication in the variety and application of colour by Pissarro during this final stage of his working life is really only comparable with Monet's more personal art and finds a distant echo in, for example, the canvases of Jackson Pollock. (C. Lloyd, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1981, p. 110)

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