Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
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Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
4 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism

La route de Rouen, les hauteurs de l'Hautil, Pontoise

La route de Rouen, les hauteurs de l'Hautil, Pontoise
signed and dated 'Pissarro. 1872' (lower left)
oil on canvas
16 5/8 x 21 7/8 in. (42.2 x 55.5 cm.)
Painted in 1872
Julie Pissarro, Paris (wife of the artist).
Georges Manzana-Pissarro, Paris (gift from the above, 1921).
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London.
Lady Kroyer-Kielberg, London (acquired from the above, 25 September 1929).
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London (acquired from the above, 29 November 1944).
Audrey E. Pleydell-Bouverie, London (acquired from the above, 29 November 1944).
Wildenstein & Co. Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 1966).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 26 November 1974.
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro: Son art—son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 100, no. 151 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 31).
R.R. Brettell, Pissarro and Pontoise: The Painter in a Landscape, Yale, 1990, pp. 127-128, no. 121 (illustrated in color, p. 127; detail illustrated in color on the frontispiece).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. II, pp. 201-202, no. 246 (illustrated in color, p. 201).
R.R. Brettell, Pissarro's People, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2011, p. 22 (detail illustrated in color, fig. 8).
London, National Gallery, Nineteenth Century French Paintings, December 1942-January 1943, p. 5, no. 51.
London, The Tate Gallery, The Pleydell-Bouverie Collection of Impressionist and Other Paintings, April 1954, p. 10, no. 30.
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Collects: Impressionist and Early Modern Masters, January-February 1978, no. 7 (illustrated).
Special notice
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Lot Essay

Between 1866 and 1883 Camille Pissarro created over 300 paintings of Pontoise, a medieval market town on the banks of the Oise river, and its environs. Pissarro captured the complex facets of what are now the northwest suburbs of Paris, from appealing bucolic landscapes to picturesque village genre scenes and the encroachment of modern industrialization. The diversity of mood and scene he gleaned from this relatively small geographic region speaks to his intense connection with the land. La route de Rouen, les hauteurs de l'Hautil, Pontoise exemplifies how Pissarro mapped his technical experimentations onto the local landscape, creating scenes that are at once fleeting and permanent, timeless and contemporary.
La route de Rouen, les hauteurs de l'Hautil, Pontoise represents what Richard Brettell calls Pissarro’s “classic Pontoise period” (1872-1873) (Pissarro and Pontoise: The Painter in a Landscape, New Haven, 1990, p. 151). Recognized as a particularly generative time in which Pissarro created some of his most inventive landscapes, Brettell ascribes the moniker to the balanced, harmonious scenes produced during this short span, which marry the Impressionist’s emphasis on the sensory experience of perception with a pictorial quietude rooted in the landscape. Indeed, the author and critic Emile Zola could have been speaking of the present painting when he said of Pissarro’s work: “one hears the profound voice of the earth and divines the powerful life of the trees. The austerity of the horizons, the disdain of clamor, the complete lack of sharp notes gives the ensemble an indescribable feeling of epic grandeur” (quoted in R.Z. DeLue, “Pissarro Landscape, Vision and Tradition” in The Art Bulletin, 1998, p. 721).
Pissarro’s only focused study of a “bourgeois promeneur” in the countryside, the present work features his wife, Julie, and their daughter Jeanne (known as Minette, who would die not long after this was painted), in the midst of a ploughed field in their hometown of Pontoise (R. Brettell, op. cit., 1990, p. 128). The muted palette of earthen browns, taupes, and greens evoke the baked summer heat of the French countryside. Pissarro first moved to Pontoise in 1866, followed in 1869 by a move to Louveciennes, a more easily accessible Parisian suburb. After fleeing the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 to take refuge in London, in 1872 he settled his family again in Pontoise where they would remain for the next decade. Throughout these perambulations, two constants held fast: the depiction of the rural landscape, and his dialogue with artists past and present. Pissarro found his own voice by pushing against the techniques and models of artists he respected, including Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, his fellow Impressionists, as well as Paul Cézanne, and, in the late 1880s, the Neo-Impressionists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.
Though the present work predates the official baptism of the “Impressionists” at their first exhibition in 1874, from the late 1860s Pissarro was deeply engaged with the group’s founding artists. His move to Louveciennes was likely prompted by a desire to paint alongside Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who resided nearby. During this period the foundations of the Impressionist technique were formed, with an emphasis on plein air painting, visible brushstrokes and unblended colors. This groundbreaking technique shaped the trajectory of Pissarro’s art. Previously he had looked towards the Naturalist paintings of Barbizon artists, most notably Corot, whom he claimed as an instructor. Corot’s focus on the natural landscape elevated the genre from setting to subject, depicting the natural world (from Rome to the local forest of Fontainebleau) as a meditative, pre-industrial arcadia. In La route de Rouen, les hauteurs de l'Hautil, Pontoise Pissarro combines these influences, breaking down forms into Impressionism’s fractured brushstrokes, juxtaposing textured daubs with smooth strips of pure color while retaining Corot’s harmonious compositional clarity.
In 1872 the young Cézanne was Pissarro’s most significant colleague. The two first met in 1861 in the Académie de Charles Suisse, and in the summer of 1872 Cézanne joined Pissarro in Pontoise. The singular period of 1872-1874 has been called the “School of Pontoise”; the rich, sustained contact between the two artists produced shared motifs and methods which had lasting consequences for their development (R. Shikes and P. Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, New York, p. 115). Cézanne grounded Pissarro, inspiring the latter to augment Impressionism’s loose brushstrokes and glittering light with a thicker application of paint and foundational geometric forms. In La route de Rouen, les hauteurs de l'Hautil, Pontoise these characteristics are particularly visible in the rising hills of l’Hautil, whose linear construction and quadrilateral fields create compositional stability. The balanced structure evident here, as in other paintings from this period, marries Impressionism’s tactile perspective (a technique wherein the foreground is more vigorously depicted than the background) with Corot’s ordered serenity and Cezanne’s complex pictorial space.

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