Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
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Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Le Pont Boïeldieu et la gare d'Orléans, Rouen, matin, cinq heures

Details
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Le Pont Boïeldieu et la gare d'Orléans, Rouen, matin, cinq heures
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro. 98' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25½ x 31 5/8 in. (64.4 x 80.5 cm.)
Painted in 1898
Provenance
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the artist on 21 October 1898.
Galerie Wildenstein, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1983.
Isetan, Tokyo, by whom acquired from the above in June 1991.
Artemis Fine Art Ltd., London, by whom acquired from the above in July 2000.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
L.R. Pissarro & L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, Son art - son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, no. 1048 (illustrated vol. II, pl. 210).
C. Lloyd (ed.), Studies on Camille Pissarro, London, 1987, note 61, p. 93.
M. Stevens, 'The Urban Impressionist. Pissarro's Cityscapes. Series and Serialism', in Apollo, November 1992, p. 283 (illustrated pl. VII). J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Camille Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. III, Paris, 2005, no. 1226 (illustrated p. 766).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, C. Pissarro, January - February 1901, no. 5.
London, Thomas Agnew & sons, Paintings and Drawings by Camille Pissarro, November 1937, no. 40.
Dallas, Texas, Museum of Art, The Impressionists and the City: Pissarro's Series Paintings, November 1992 - January 1993, no. 15; this exhibition later travelled to Philadelphia, Museum of Art and London, The Royal Academy, July - October 1993. Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art, Camille Pissarro and the Pissarro Family, March - April 1998, no. 63; this exhibition later travelled to Osaka, Daimairu Museum, Umeda and Fukuoka, Mitsukoshi Gallery.
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Lot Essay

The present work is a celebration of a modern city. Even at five o'clock in the morning, as Pissarro's own title tells us, the chimneys churn out smoke, the river traffic jostles for business and workers throng the deck of a ferry. However it also remains a wonderful evocation of atmosphere as the crisp, roseate glow of a post-dawn summer sun, rising to the left of the picture, bathes the city's architecture and the wide expanse of the Seine in the gentlest, clearest light.

Pissarro's series paintings of the 1890s marked a new departure. With the exception of some 1870s works including small-scale industrial motifs (fig. 1), his career hitherto had been principally as an artist of the rural environment, finding motifs in the countryside around him, whether at Louveciennes, Pontoise or Eragny. Here he had been sought out by younger artists - Cézanne and Gauguin amongst them - for whom Pissarro's quiet and steady companionship and tutelage was an invaluable route into the Impressionist group. Now, as he entered his seventh decade, perhaps inspired by Monet's exhibitions at Galerie Durand-Ruel of a series of haystacks paintings staged in 1891 followed by the Rouen cathedral façades in 1895, Pissarro took on the uncompromisingly urban settings of Paris and Rouen as subjects worthy of serial treatment. (It could be argued that Monet returned the compliment when he embarked on his series of London views with the Thames as the focal point a few years later.)

After long consideration, and drawing on his previous visits to the city, Rouen - a city he described as being 'as beautiful as Venice' - was the subject Pissarro chose for his first city series. In 1896 he made two painting trips, one in the winter months at the beginning of the year and the other in the autumn, staying during the second visit at the Hôtel d'Angleterre. These two trips produced a total of twenty-eight pictures which concentrated on the activity around the Seine, whether it was the teeming activity on the bridges or on the docks. 'Rouen is admirable', Pissarro wrote to his son Lucien in September 1896, 'here at the hotel, from my window at the second mezzanine floor, I see the boats glide by with their plumes of black, yellow, white, pink smoke. I see the ships loaded with planks of wood being moored, being unloaded, going off' (quoted in exh. cat. The Impressionist and the City: Pissarro's Series Paintings, London, 1992, p. 6).

The present work, Le Pont Boïeldieu et la gare d'Orléans, Rouen, Matin, cinq heures, belongs to the third and final group of paintings of Rouen executed over the summer months of 1898. It is one of a number painted from the Hôtel d'Angleterre looking over the foreground quay and the Seine to the far bank with the squat, twin-turreted edifice of the new railway station, the Gare d'Orléans, opened in 1898 and situated in the Quartier Saint-Sever in the distance. At the left is the Pont Boïeldieu, named in honour of one of Rouen's famous sons, François-Adrien Boïeldieu, a prolific composer of operas in the first quarter of the nineteenth-century. Of the fourteen paintings depicting Rouen, the Seine and its surrounding from 1898, half are today housed in public collections.

Among the principal reasons for a series project had to be the opportunity to explore in great depth the varying aspects of a fixed or similar motif. In spreading his three trips to Rouen over winter, summer and autumn seasons, Pissarro assured himself of a range of climactic conditions. He also chose to vary the times of day he rendered similar subjects. The crisp summer morning light of the present work contrasts with the soft, more even illumination of a work of a summer afternoon view of the same subject (P & D-RS no. 1227). Each work in the series, however, retains its own strong sense of individual identity.

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