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Paysannes assises gardant des vaches

Paysannes assises gardant des vaches
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro. 1886' (lower left)
gouache on linen laid down on board
12 x 16 1/8 in. (30.5 x 41.1 cm.)
Executed in 1886
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 12 May 1999, lot 235.
Acquired at the above sale; sale, Sotheby’s, Paris, 28 March 2019, lot 216.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work is accompanied by an original Attestation of Inclusion from the Wildenstein Institute, and it will be included in the forthcoming Camille Pissarro Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

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Lot Essay

Upon being introduced to Georges Seurat and Paul Signac in 1885, Camille Pissarro’s work took a turn towards the pointillist style. The present lot, dated 1886, shows Pissarro’s early attempts at using the divisionist technique, a time-consuming, methodical process of applying pigment brushstroke by brushstroke. In comparison to the spontaneous approach of the core Impressionists, the younger Neo-Impressionist artists painted with systematic calculation based upon scientific theories of light and optical principles, which Pissarro embraced and developed.

In the 1880s Pissarro revisited the pastoral themes of many of his predecessors, but he portrayed the country landscape, peasants, and livestock without historical pretence and grandeur, focusing instead on the importance of colour, applied with energetic strokes of pigment.

In comparison to other gouaches that the artist executed circa 1886-1887 with women toiling in the fields as they harvest crops or hay, the present work captures a rare moment of relaxation during the workday. Two young women sit on the grass, engaged in an intimate conversation as they lean towards each other, their four cows grazing nearby. The serene scene is invigorated with cross-hatching brushwork that makes the textures of the women’s dresses, the cows’ furs and the surrounding foliage hum with energy. Amidst the vivid green colour palette, Pissarro brings in a few accents of complementary red, visible in the woman’s headscarf at the centre of the composition and the rosy cheeks of the two figures.

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