Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Property from the Collection of A. Jerrold Perenchio
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Paysannes dans les champs, Pontoise

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Paysannes dans les champs, Pontoise
signed and indistinctly dated 'C. Pissarro' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 ¼ x 21 7/8 in. (46.5 x 55.7 cm.)
Painted in 1880
Victor Vignon, Paris (probably acquired from the artist).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 22 April 1891).
Potter Palmer, Chicago (acquired from the above, 29 April 1892).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 16 June 1892).
Aynard Collection, Paris (acquired from the above, 28 June 1892).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 14 June 1894).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, Spring 1897 and until at least 1949).
Baron Louis de Chollet, Fribourg, Switzerland (probably acquired from the above, late 1950s).
Sam Salz, Inc., New York (acquired from the above, December 1963).
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired from the above, February 1964).
Mr. and Mrs. F.C. Hixon, San Antonio (acquired from the above, 1968 and until at least 1978).
William Beadleston, Inc., New York.
Ralph Vallone Jr., Puerto Rico.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 14 November 1984, lot 15.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro: Son art—son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 153, no. 515 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 106; with incorrect dimensions).
R.R. Brettell, Pissarro and Pontoise, London, 1990, p. 191.
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. II, p. 425, no. 638 (illustrated in color; with incorrect dimensions).
San Antonio, Marian Koogler McNay Art Institute (on loan 1970 and 1978).
London, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), XIX and XX Century French Paintings and Drawings, November-December 1963, p. 11, no. 10 (illustrated, p. 12).
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Inc., Four Masters of Impressionism, November-October 1968, no. 24 (illustrated in color).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

Around 1880, as the first full decade of Impressionism drew to a close, Pissarro embarked upon an intensive period of aesthetic exploration. His brushwork evolved toward a densely packed web of small touches in lieu of the loose, irregular handling of Impressionist practice; his landscape production dwindled in favor of large-scale figure painting, and he increasingly incorporated preparatory drawing, print-making, and studio work into his creative process. “These varied interests suggest a fundamental questioning of the kind of painting normally associated with Impressionism, the plein air sketch,” Richard Brettell has written, “and a more complicated, highly mediated relationship with ‘reality’ than a simple optical one” (op. cit., 1990, p. 184). This sea-change in Pissarro’s approach is clearly manifest in the present Paysannes dans les champs, painted in 1880 and sold the following year.
Depicting an open field bordering a copse of tall trees near the artist’s long-time home at Pontoise, the canvas is a new version—created in the studio—of a composition that Pissarro had painted en plein air in 1875 and shown four years later at the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, no. 414). Although the landscape motif is nearly identical in both canvases, Pissarro here systematized the brushwork and purified the color harmonies, brightening the prevailing blues and greens and adding a sequence of complementary orange accents, to imbue the scene with a heightened sense of structure and recessive space. Whereas the human protagonists in the older painting are mere specks in the landscape, now they are rendered as volumetrically modeled forms—almost classicizing in their solidity—with a central role in organizing the composition. The peasant woman at the left, stooping gracefully to fill her harvest basket, provides the viewer with a point of entry into the scene; her companion swivels around to observe the duo with a mule in the middle distance, her gaze drawing our own eye into depth. “Pissarro chose one of his most Impressionist pictures,” Brettell has concluded, “enlarged the figures, and ordered the facture to produce a masterpiece in no way related to the casual, plein air aesthetic of the earlier picture” (ibid., p. 191).

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