Le Jardin des Tuileries, brume

Le Jardin des Tuileries, brume
signed and dated ‘C. Pissarro. 1900’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
54.2 x 65.3 cm. (21 3⁄8 x 25 5⁄8 in.)
Painted in 1900
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist (possibly on 30 March 1900)
(possibly) Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, by whom acquired from the above on 9 April 1900
Adolphe Tavernier, Paris; sale, Drouot, Paris, 23 March 1903, lot 29
Jeanne Pissarro-Bonin, Paris (daughter of the artist), by whom possibly acquired at the above sale
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the above on 18 November 1921
Oppenheimer, by whom acquired from the above on 17 March 1953
Galerie Commeter, Hamburg
Anon, sale, Sotheby's London, 27 March 1957, lot 106
J.R. Cleveland, by whom acquired at the above sale
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 7 December 1966, lot 61
Furneaux (acquired at the above sale)
Jacques Spreiregen, Monaco (by 1977)
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, March 30, 1987, lot 9
Private collection; sale, Christie's New York, Nov 14 1989, Lot 35
Private collection, by whom acquired at the above sale
L.-R. Pissarro & L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art, son oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1939, no. 1127, p. 237; vol. II, no. 1127 (illustrated pl. 224).
J. Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, 1891-1894, Paris, no. 1786, p. 149.
J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Camille Pissarro, Critical Catalogue of Paintings, vol. III, Paris, 2005, no. 1315, p. 812 (illustrated)
Paris, Château de Bagatelle, Peintre de jardins des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, June - July 1928, no. 71
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Pissarro in England, June - July 1968, no. 25 (illustrated)
Tokyo, Galerie Nichido, Post-Impressionism, March 1970, no. 4

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Lot Essay

In the mid-1890s, after more than a decade of painting almost exclusively at rural Eragny, Pissarro found himself craving a new type of landscape. Long since established as the preeminent modern painter of agrarian life in France, he now re-invented himself as a tireless chronicler of the contemporary metropolis. Commencing from January 1897, Pissarro undertook several successful campaigns and eventually decided to rent an apartment in Paris, enabling him to stay for the entire winter and spring and to bring his family with him. The artist found a flat at 204, rue de Rivoli that suited his criteria, its south-facing windows offering him a splendid variety of pictorial motifs—“with plenty of Parisian character,” as he had sought. “We have secured an apartment opposite the Tuileries,” he wrote to Lucien in December 1898, “with a magnificent view of the garden, the Louvre to the left, the houses at the bottom, the embankments behind the trees in the garden, the dome of the Invalides to the right, the spires of Sainte-Clothilde behind the clump of chestnut trees—it’s most attractive. I shall have a beautiful series to work on” (quoted in J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., 2005, p. 103).

This panorama formed the basis for Pissarro’s longest and most varied urban series to date, consisting of twentyeight canvases created during two separate campaigns in January-June 1899 and November 1899-May 1900. Looking directly out his window, he painted the Grand Bassin of the Tuileries, playing on the manifold variations of season, weather, and time of day to impart a unique character to each of the fifteen works on this theme. Le Jardin des Tuileries, Brume depicts the Grand Bassin on a romantic, misty day in Autumn, under delicate, diffuse light, with a few people strolling here and there. It bears great similarity to The Garden of the Tuileries on a Winter Afternoon from 1898, now resident in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and was perhaps created during the very same winter, bathed in a softer light suggestive of the atmosphere that day. “The greater diversity of formats, motifs, techniques, and effects was a result of the fact that Pissarro could now take more time,” Joachim Pissarro has written, “to meditate on and absorb his work” (ibid., p. 103).

Unlike the artist’s earlier Parisian series, which treated city streets teeming with pedestrians and carriages, these new views develop the non-urban aspect of the metropolitan space. “Pissarro was now looking for new contrasts, new oppositions of themes—the parks where the city negates itself, opens itself on to nature” (ibid., p. 104). The compositional basis for the present painting is found in the interlocking circular and rectilinear patterns of Le Nôtre’s Tuileries, which confer on the view a solid, architectonic strength. The magnificently symmetrical layout of the formally planned gardens, however, is fragmented and disrupted here—forever in flux, like the modern metropolis itself. The organic forms of the trees counterbalance the linearity of the sculpted gardens, while the twin steeples of Sainte-Clothilde in the distance punctuate the vast expanse of sky.

In January 1901, Pissarro undertook a solo exhibition at Durand-Ruel’s gallery, where his new views of Paris attracted particular enthusiasm. “Here are the Tuileries Gardens under a mild sky; here they are again on an afternoon in the same season with a pretty twilight sky filled with purplish tones,” wrote Jules de Saint-Hilaire for Le Journal des Arts. “But now hoar-frost makes its appearance, tinging the scene with a luminous pink transparency. Succeeding hoar-frost, it’s the turn of snow which shrouds everything. And when the snow melts there comes the rebirth of spring” (quoted in J. Pissarro, C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., 2005, p. 783). François Thiébault-Sisson, writing in Le Temps, was more succinct in his praise. “He renders the delicate modulations in his views of the Tuileries Gardens with absolute mastery. Here, truly, he triumphs” (quoted in ibid., p. 299).

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