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

Prairie de Bazincourt

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Prairie de Bazincourt
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro. 1885' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (46 x 55 cm.)
Painted in 1885
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, 12 June 1885).
Pierre Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above).
Mrs. Selznick, Paris (by descent from the above).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 1 June 1964).
Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London (acquired from the above, 18 June 1964).
Douglas Carver, California (acquired from the above, October 1964).
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London (acquired from the above, 28 June 1983).
Mrs. V. Pastel (acquired from the above, 6 December 1983).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 1989, lot 19.
Private collection, United States; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 8 November 1995, lot 5.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
T. Duret, Histoire des peintres Impressionnistes, Paris, 1939, no. 16 (illustrated in color).
L. R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art–son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 174, no. 659 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 136).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, p. 519, no. 789 (illustrated in color).
London, The Grafton Galleries, A Selection From the Pictures by Boudin, Manet, Pissarro, Ce´zanne, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Sisley, January-February 1905, no. 194 (titled Meadow at Bazincourt).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition de tableaux et dessins: Quelques maîtres du 18e et 19e siècle, May-June 1938, no. 54.
Kunsthalle Basel, Impressionisten: Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Vorläufer und Zeitgenossen, September-November 1949, p. 30, no. 136 (titled Bazincourt).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition Camille Pissarro: Organisée au profit de la Société des Amis du Louvre, June-September 1956, no. 61.
Kunstmuseum Bern, Camille Pissarro, January-March 1957, p. 16, no. 75.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., Recent Acquisitions XIX, November 1964, no. 26 (illustrated).
London, The Lefevre Gallery, Important XIX & XX Century Works of Art, November-December 1983, p. 36, no. 14 (illustrated in color, p. 37).

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

In April 1884, Pissarro moved to Eragny, a hamlet on the banks of the Epte that would remain his home–and the principal inspiration for his art–until his death almost two decades later. His financial situation had become increasingly dire since the crash of the Paris stock market in 1882, which almost ruined Durand-Ruel, and he had a growing family to support–his wife Julie and their four young children at home, plus a baby on the way. For almost a year, Pissarro scoured the countryside near Paris in search of a large house at moderate rent, with appealing landscape motifs close at hand. When he visited Eragny, some forty-five miles northwest of the capital in the Vexin region, he was immediately smitten. “Yes, we’ve made up our minds on Eragny-sur-Epte,” he wrote to his eldest son Lucien. “The house is superb and inexpensive; a thousand francs, with garden and meadow. It is two hours from Paris. I found the region much more beautiful than Compiègne” (quoted in J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., 2005, p. 499).
Within days of settling at Eragny, Pissarro was hard at work. “I haven’t been able to resist painting, so beautiful are the views all around my garden,” he wrote to Durand-Ruel (ibid., p. 185). Throughout the coming year, he ranged widely over the countryside near his new home, working at his rolling easel. He depicted the village center of Eragny, with its picturesque church and manor house, and he crossed a small footbridge over the Epte to work in the neighboring hamlets of Bazincourt and Thierceville. He delighted in painting the expansive fields, gently rolling hills, and meandering river banks within a single square mile of his new home, and he also produced his very first views of the meadow just beyond his property, which would become one of the seminal motifs of his late career. “He could never get enough of Eragny,” Joachim Pissarro has written. “His infrequent travels always brought him back with renewed resources, fresh ideas, and an eagerness to paint the same and yet ever different locations once again” (Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 241).
Pissarro painted the present scene during the early spring of 1885, when the ground was already carpeted with new green grass but the trees had only just begun to bud. Durand-Ruel acquired the canvas in mid-June and showed it the same month in a major exhibition of Impressionist paintings that he organized at the Hôtel du Grand Miroir in Brussels. The painting depicts a fenced pasture on the outskirts of Bazincourt, with the jostling rooftops of the village glimpsed in the middle distance through a screen of slender trees. The shadows are short, suggesting that Pissarro worked at midday when the air was at its warmest; the sun enters the scene from the right, bleaching the tree trunks on that side to pale gold. A single diminutive figure, perhaps Julie, strolls leisurely through the foreground, enjoying the manifest pleasures of the countryside as it awakens from winter–a proxy for the plein-air artist, here fully in his element.

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