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Chemin de l'écluse, Saint-Ouen-l'Aumône

Chemin de l'écluse, Saint-Ouen-l'Aumône
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1882' (lower left)
oil on canvas
28 ¾ x 23 3⁄8 in. (73 x 59.2 cm.)
Painted in 1882
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (before 1891, until at least 1962).
Galerie Nathan, Zurich (circa 1964).
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York.
Mamdouha and Elmer Bobst, New York (acquired from the above, 1965); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 2016, lot 30.
Acquired at the above sale by Arnold and Anne Ulnick Gumowitz.
L. Venturi and P. Durand-Ruel, Les Archives de l’impressionnisme: Lettres de Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley et autres; Mémoires de Paul Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1939, no. 569.
J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1946, p. 2 (illustrated in color).
G. Jedlicka, Pissarro, Bern, 1950, p. 30, no. 22 (illustrated; titled Kanalweg bei Pontoise).
T. Nathanson, Pissarro, Lausanne, 1950 (illustrated, pl. 22).
The Connoisseur, April 1965, vol. 158, no. 638 (illustrated in color; titled Chemin de Halage à Pontoise).
J. Rewald, “Jours sombres de l’Impressionnisme: Paul Durand-Ruel et l’exposition des impressionnistes à Londres en 1905” in L’Oeil, Paris, February 1974, p. 59 (illustrated).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. II, p. 462, no. 694 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition de Tableaux de Monet, Pissarro, Renoir & Sisley, January 1899, no. 44 (titled Le Quai, à Pontoise).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Tableaux, pastels et gouaches par Camille Pissarro, 1921, no. 11.
New York, The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings, November 1931, no. 16 (titled Towing Team).
New York, The Union League Club, Exhibition of Paintings by the Master Impressionists, November 1932, no. 14 (titled Chevaux de halage).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by the Master Impressionists, October-November 1934, no. 18.
Toronto, Mallows Fine Arts, 1935.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, “Vues on the Seine” by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, 1937, no. 14.
Springfield, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Master Impressionists, October 1937, no. 9 (titled Chevaux d'halage).
San Francisco Museum of Art, Impressionism: Paintings by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Seurat, Sisley, summer 1938, no. 17 (titled Tow Horses).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, The Art of Camille Pissarro in Retrospect, March-April 1941, no. 24 (titled Chemin de halage, Pontoise).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et cie., Pissarro, June-September 1956, no. 49 (titled Chemin de halage, Pontoise).
Kunstmuseum Bern, Camille Pissarro, January-March 1957, no. 64 (titled Chemin de halage, Pontoise).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Camille Pissarro, May-September 1962, no. 20 (titled Chemin de halage, Pontoise).
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Four Masters of Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, October-November 1968, no. 33 (illustrated in color; titled Chemin de halage, Pontoise).

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Lot Essay

Camille Pissarro painted the Oise River at Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône at three distinct moments in his career: in 1867, 1876 and 1882. This trio of related canvases, separated by fifteen years, demonstrate the remarkable evolution of Pissarro’s style—from the solid, blocky Realism of the 1860s to the buoyant, fluid Impressionism of the 1870s and 1880s. The present work, Chemin de l’Ecluse, Saint-Ouen-lAumône of 1882, represents a climax of Pissarro’s brilliant painterly texture.
Pissarro lived with his family in Pontoise between 1872 and 1882, overlapping with the first decade of the Impressionist exhibitions in Paris. Pontoise was a rural village was situated along the Oise River, a tributary of the Seine about twenty-five miles from the capital city; Pontoise was flanked on either side by the valleys of L’Hermitage and Viosne. During this period, Pissarro devoted himself almost entirely to painting this remote town, its environs and its humble constituents: farmers, peasants and laborers performing the quotidian rituals of life. According to Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro’s presence in this region inspired other avant-garde artists to join him. Most notably, his friend Paul Cezanne moved to Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, located just across the river from Pontoise, in 1872. Pissarro and Cezanne both painted the Oise from both banks.
Though still clinging to its agricultural economy, this region was also the site of modern manufacture; the Arneuil paint factory and the J. Chalon et Cie. treacle distillery were built in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône during Pissarro’s residence in Pontoise. Pissarro occasionally highlighted these new industrial structures in his riverscapes, observing the ephemeral effects of the pollution billowing from the factory chimneys. Tall, slender smoke stacks are visible in Pissarro's earlier paintings for example: Bords de l'Oise à Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, no. 117; Denver Art Museum) and Cavalier sur les bords de l’Oise, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, no. 453; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam).
In the present work, however, the trunk of a smokestack is nearly indistinguishable from the roofline of the Cathedral and the slate-roofed houses of Pontoise; a thin plume of smoke from a passing train is the only sign of modern capitalism and technology. Here instead, Pissarro focused on the dirt path along the river known as the Chemin de l’Ecluse, which led to the locks at Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône. Flat barges, which carried goods up and down the Oise, used those locks to navigate the uneven levels of water in this narrow bend of the river. Pissarro devoted as much attention to the confetti of color in the dirt path as the clouds above: maroon, chocolate, moss green and ochre pigments convey the color of the earth, while a delicate gradient of blues and purples form the sky. The artist also conveyed the subtle reflections of the houses in the surface of the water, as well as the linear shadows of the trees along the dirt path. He formed these impressions using his characteristic technique of “small, cross-hatched strokes of separate hues, one over the other, which built up dense webbing of color and texture, like flattened, matted grass” (Pissarro, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1980, p. 158). The trees themselves appear tinged with gold, a sure sign of autumn.
Walking along this path is a singular male figure wearing a gray cap and slacks with a light blue smock. He walks just behind his two work horses, laden with bags. In the late 1870s and the early, Pissarro had begun to experiment meaningfully with full-size representations of his neighbor paysans at rest or at work—plowing, weeding, harvesting, washing, and so on. These large-scale genre scenes served to heroize the peasant figures and to valorize their manual labor. In the present work, however, the figure is a mere accessory to the landscape, which formed the primary subject of the painting: earth, sky, town and river,
This work was purchased by the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel before 1891, and remained with his family until at least 1962. It was subsequently purchased by the American philanthropists Mamdouha and Elmer Bobst in 1965, and remained in their family until 2016, when it was acquired by Arnold and Anne Ulnick Gumowitz.

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