Rue de la Citadelle, Pontoise
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1873' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21 1/8 x 28 7/8 in. (53.6 x 73.2 cm.)
Painted in 1873
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York.
Cyrus J. Lawrence, New York (acquired from the above, 2 July 1897); Estate sale, American Art Galleries, New York, 21 January 1910, lot 69.
Harriet Crocker Alexander, New York (acquired at the above sale).
Sheldon and Mary C. Whitehouse, New York (by descent from the above, 1935).
Wildenstein & Co. Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 1965).
Florence J. Gould, San Francisco and Cannes (acquired from the above, 1967); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 24 April 1985, lot 38.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty at the above sale.
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro: Son art-son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 107, no. 201 (titled L'hiver à Pontoise).
C. Kunstler, Pissarro: Cities and Landscapes, Lausanne, 1967, p. 25 (illustrated in color, pl. 11; titled Winter at Pontoise).
J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, p. 294 (illustrated; titled Street in Pontoise, Winter).
C. Kunstler, Camille Pissarro, Milan, 1974, p. 22 (illustrated in color, fig. 2).
U. Perucchi-Petri, "War Cezanne Impressioniste?" in Du, September 1975, p. 58 (illustrated).
J. Rewald, Camille Pissarro, London, 1991, p. 27 (illustrated; titled Street in Pontoise, Winter).
J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 115 (illustrated in color, p. 122, fig. 118).
B.E. White, Impressionists Side by Side, New York, 1996, p. 119 (illustrated in color).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. II, p. 253, no. 323 (illustrated in color).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Camille Pissarro-Views of Rouen, March-April 1897, no. 19.
Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Schloss Charlottenberg, Die Ile de France und ihre Maler, September-November 1963, p. 54, no. 14 (illustrated; titled Straβe in Pontoise im Winter).
New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., One Hundred Years of Impressionism: A Tribute to Durand-Ruel, for the Benefit of the New York University Art Collection, April-May 1970, no. 19 (illustrated; titled L'hiver à Pontoise).
Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection; The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige, September 1998-August 1999, p. 146, no. 37 (illustrated in color, p. 147; titled Street in Pontoise, Winter).
The Baltimore Museum of Art; Milwaukee Art Museum and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape, February 2007-January 2008, p. 154, no. 34 (illustrated in color, p. 155).

Brought to you by

Elizabeth Seigel
Elizabeth Seigel Vice President, Specialist, Head of Private and Iconic Collections

Lot Essay

Camille Pissarro’s snow-covered view of a street in his beloved Pontoise occupies an important place within the history of Impressionism. Pissarro painted this quintessentially Impressionist scene alongside his newfound friend, Paul Cezanne. This was the first time that the pair painted the same motif together, marking the start of a critical moment in the lives of both artists, but particularly Cezanne, who, thanks to Pissarro’s mentorship moved away from his idiosyncratic, gestural, dark and often violent style and embraced the tenets of nascent Impressionism. Cezanne’s portrayal of this Pontoise snow scene, Effet de neige, rue de la Citadelle à Pontoise was likely destroyed during the Second World War (FWN 72-TA).
Pissarro painted Rue de la Citadelle, Pontoise in 1873, shortly after he had returned to Pontoise, the prosperous market town northwest of Paris that would remain the center of his art and life for the next decade. Pissarro and his family had first moved there in 1866, drawn to the varied and picturesque terrain of the area. Not far from the river Oise lay rolling hills, sloping fields and winding lanes. From this point onwards, Pissarro painted the environs of Pontoise with a constant devotion. Just as Cezanne would become indelibly wedded to Aix-en-Provence, so Pissarro became tied to the locale of Pontoise.
Richard Brettell described the artist’s work in Pontoise in the early 1870s as “the apex of Pissarro's career as a landscape painter.” “When the history of Impressionism is rewritten in another hundred years, Pissarro’s paintings of 1872 and 1873 will be considered his masterpieces, as great, in their way, as Corot's work from his first trips to Italy or Monet’s landscapes from the late 1860s” (Pissarro and Pontoise, New Haven, 1990, p. 160). It was at this time that Pissarro fully developed his Impressionist technique, adopting a lighter, brighter palette and a more delicate touch, as the present work demonstrates.
Not long after Pissarro returned to Pontoise, Cezanne moved there too, before settling in nearby Auvers, where he remained until 1874. From this time onwards, he frequently painted with Pissarro. In Pissarro’s words, this is when Cezanne “came under my influence and I his” (quoted in J. Pissarro, Pioneering Modern Painting: Cezanne and Pissarro, 1865-1885, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2005, p. 123). This was a seminal moment in Cezanne’s life. Up until this point, the artist had been using dark colors applied gesturally, often with a palette knife. His subjects were frequently mythological, often seen as the expression of the artist’s inner turmoil. Pissarro encouraged Cezanne to look to the world around him as his subject. As a result, he began to embrace an Impressionist style. The impetuosity of his earlier work was replaced with an Impressionist handling. “Until the [Franco-Prussian War], you know, I had terrible troubles,” he later explained. “I lost hold of my life. It was only at L’Estaque, upon reflection, that I finally understood Pissarro, a painter like me…. He worked relentlessly. Insane love for work took me over” (quoted in Cezanne in Provence, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2006, p. 128).
Elements of Cezanne’s own artistic vision were also imparted onto the older Impressionist during this time. “The influence was mutually reinforcing. Pissarro, along with Cezanne, began to cultivate an abstract geometric order evident in what became very much integral to Cezanne’s thinking” (exh. cat., op. cit., 2005, p. 123). While painted early on in their friendship, this sense of geometric order is present in Rue de la Citadelle, Pontoise—the forms of the interlocking mass of buildings on the left contrasting with the gentle curve of the hedge and the tracks in the road. Pissarro later recalled of this period: “Naturally, we were always together! But what cannot be denied is that each of us kept the only thing that counts, the unique ‘sensation’” (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 1998, p. 146).
There are ten known pairs of works by Pissarro and Cezanne, with the present Rue de la Citadelle, Pontoise and Cezanne’s depiction of this same view standing as the products of their first shared painting experience. In the present work, Pissarro has featured the octagonally shaped old citadel, flanked by the gently curving road that shares its name with this unusual architectural landmark. Recent snowfall has dusted the leafless hedgerow and terracotta-colored rooftops, while on the road, the powdery precipitation appears denser. Three figures appear, leading the viewer’s eye along the track and into the distance. This perspectival view of the road was a compositional device frequently used in Pissarro’s work of this time. By contrast, Cezanne’s work of the same motif eliminated any sign of human presence. The view is also more closely cropped, the citadel absent. While Pissarro’s composition is defined by a sense of spatial depth, Cezanne’s, in what would soon become a frequent characteristic of his art, is flatter, the recessive perspective less insistent.
Pissarro remained true to the depiction of the rural landscape for the rest of his life. Due to his fidelity at capturing the world as it appeared to him, he often painted snow-covered scenes. Indeed, along with Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, Pissarro produced the most snowscapes of the Impressionists, numbering just over a hundred canvases that depict the landscape under snow or frost. “Despite the wide variety of content and composition,” Katherine Rothkopf has written, “these winterscapes have in common Pissarro’s enduring love of nature, his great fascination with light and shadow, and his interest in humanity; in virtually every painting he includes a reference to human-kind—a house, a fence, or a small figure” (ibid., p. 39).

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