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Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise

Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise
signed and dated ‘C. Pissarro 81’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
23 3⁄8 x 28 ¾ in. (59.5 x 73 cm.)
Painted in 1881
Paul Durand- Ruel, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 2 March 1882.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, transferred from the above on 29 April 1890.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, New York, transferred from the above in May 1897, probably until at least 1956.
Baron Louis de Chollet, Fribourg, Switzerland, by whom acquired from the above in the late 1950s.
Sam Salz, New York, by whom acquired from the above in November 1963.
Benjamin Edward Besinger, New York, by whom acquired from the above in April 1966.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, London, 6 December 1978, lot 236.
Yayoi Gallery, Tokyo.
Private collection, Japan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1990s.
Letter from Camille Pissarro to Paul Durand-Ruel, 21 March 1892.
P. Labarriere, ‘Exposition Pisarro, Boulevard de la Madeleine, 9’ in Journal des artistes, no. 22, 1 June 1883, p. 3.
A. Andre, ‘Les petits salons. Camille Pissarro’ in La France Nouvelle, 23 February 1892, p. 2.
J. Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, vol. III, Paris, 1988, no. 19, letter no. 768, p. 210.
L. R. Pissarro & L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art – son oeuvre, vol. I, Texte, San Francisco, 1989, no. 529, p. 155 (illustrated vol. II, Planches, no. 529, pl. 108; titled 'L'Hermitage A Pontoise').
J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, pp. 115 & 119 (illustrated fig. 114, p. 119; titled 'L.Hermitage at Pontoise').
J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. II, Paris, 2005, no. 642, p. 428 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Œuvres de C. Pissarro, May 1883, no. 61.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition, May - June 1888, no. 82 (titled 'Le clos de l'Ermitage à Pontoise').
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Camille Pissarro, January - February 1892, no. 19 (titled 'Hermitage à Pontoise').
(Possibly) Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Camille Pissarro, January - February 1921.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition Camille Pissarro, June - September 1956, no. 42 (titled 'L'Hermitage à Pontoise').
Hokkaido, Japan, Hakodate Museum of Art, Renoir et les Impressionistes, September - November 1956, no. 9 ; this exhibition later travelled to Fukuoka, Art Museum, November - December 1956.
Bern, Berner Kunstmuseum, Camille Pissarro, January - March 1957, no. 57, p. 14 (titled 'L'Hermitage à Pontoise').
Gunma, Japan, The Museum of Modern Art, Impressionism, September - November 1994, no. 7.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Interim Head of Department

Lot Essay

In Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise, painted in 1881, Camille Pissarro deftly rendered the verdant landscape around Pontoise, a hilltop town situated twenty-five miles northwest of Paris. A cluster of houses nestled into a hilltop is partially obscured by a bank of leafy trees, one of the artist’s favoured compositional devices. Bordered by a fence that traverses the width of the composition is the garden referred to in the title. Known as the Jardin de Maubuisson, this area consisted of a group of kitchen gardens, some of which are still in existence today. Rendering the scene with layer upon layer of small, rapidly deployed strokes of luminous colour, Pissarro has captured the atmosphere and light of this rural view. The natural but carefully calculated compositional balance distinguishes this painting as a fully mature Impressionist work in Pissarro’s oeuvre, and it is an especially successful example in the pictorial development that he avidly pursued throughout his lifetime.

Pissarro spent the years from 1866 to 1868, and 1871 to 1883 in Pontoise. Situated on a hill on the bank of the River Oise, this prosperous market town offered the artist an unending variety of motifs that he explored in numerous paintings, watercolours and gouaches over the course of these stays. Just as Paul Cezanne would become wedded to Aix-en-Provence, so Pissarro became inextricably tied to the locale of Pontoise.

Pissarro had depicted a similar view to Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise in 1867, at the beginning of his career (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, no. 115; Národní Galerie, Prague). This early composition shows the same group of vegetable patches stretching out towards the houses perched on the hill beyond. Comparison of these two works, however, shows the transformational developments that had taken place in Pissarro’s art over the course of the intervening years. The earlier canvas has a more traditional sense of perspective, with the landscape receding into the distance. The trees serve as a repoussoir, leading the viewer’s eye through the composition. By contrast, in the present work, Pissarro created a far more radical composition, presenting the various elements of the vista as horizontal bands stacked atop each other, breaking away from the gradual pictorial recession of traditional landscape painting. Beginning with the area of scrubland in the immediate foreground, the verdant green of the gardens is bordered with a stripe of vegetation, which hides a clear view of the houses behind. Transforming the landscape into distinct planes was a device that Pissarro’s great friend, Cezanne, was similarly exploring at this time.

In 1881, the year that he painted the present work, Pissarro had been joined once more in Pontoise by Cezanne. The pair had worked together in this area in 1873-1874 – a critical moment in the course of Cezanne’s career during which he abandoned the dark palette and impastoed handling of his earlier work to embrace an Impressionist style. Elements of Cezanne’s own artistic vision were also imparted onto the older Impressionist during this time: Pissarro began to employ an increasing sense of structure upon his landscape vistas. In Pissarro’s words, this period was 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).

It was during this, Cezanne’s final stay in Pontoise, that he painted L’Hermitage à Pontoise (Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal), which depicts the same vista as both the present work and its 1867 predecessor. Indeed, all of Cezanne’s paintings from this six month sojourn look back to Pissarro’s previous works; while Pissarro’s own work from this time speaks to Cezanne’s contemporaneous artistic explorations. Like Cezanne, his compositions became governed by an increasing sense of geometric structure. His handling too, and the densely worked surfaces of his canvases, such as can be seen in the present work, echo Cezanne’s nascent ‘constructive’ brushstrokes. Regarded in this context, Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise stands as an important example of the extensive period of pictorial experimentation that Pissarro was engaged in at this time, as well as serving as a visual testament of the strong friendship between these two artists.

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