Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Maisons sur un coteau, hiver, environs de Louveciennes

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Maisons sur un coteau, hiver, environs de Louveciennes
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1872' (lower right)
oil on canvas
12¾ x 18 1/8 in. (32.6 x 46 cm.)
Painted in 1872
Félix-François Depeaux, Rouen.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 14 March 1924).
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London (acquired from the above, 14 January 1937).
Edward Le Bas, C.B.E., R.A., London (acquired from the above, 30 September 1937); Estate sale, Christie's, London, 28 November 1972, lot 12.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired at the above sale).
Felicity Samuel Gallery, London (acquired from the above, 1974).
Private collection, United States; sale, Christie's, New York, 15 May 1990, lot 3.
Anon. (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 11 November 1997, lot 121.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Menorah, October 1930.
"Pissarro and Sisley Return to London" in Art News, vol. XXXV, no. 20, February 1939, p. 12 (illustrated).
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art--son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 100, no. 150 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 31; titled Printemps à Pontoise).
G. Jedlicka, Pissarro, Bern, 1950, no. 7 (illustrated; titled Printemps à Pontoise).
T. Natanson, Pissarro, Lausanne, 1950, no. 7 (illustrated; titled Printemps à Pontoise).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. II, p. 185, no. 223 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Tableaux par Camille Pissarro, February-March 1928, no. 4.
London, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., Paintings by Sisley and Pissarro, July 1934, no. 17 (titled Environs de Pontoise).
London, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), Pissarro and Sisley, January 1937, no. 5 (titled Environs de Pontoise).
Glasgow, The McLellan Galleries, French Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries, April 1937, no. 42 (titled Environs de Pontoise).
London, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), The 19th Century French Masters, July-August 1937, no. 28 (titled Environs de Pontoise).
Montreal, W. Scott & Sons, Paintings by French Masters of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, October 1937, no. 37.
London, The Leicester Galleries, Three Generations of Pissarro: Camille, Lucien, Orovida, June 1943, no. 24.
London, Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., Constable to Cézanne, December 1944, no. 30 (titled Prés de Pontoise).
London, Royal Academy of Arts Diploma Gallery, A Painter's Collection: An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from the Collection of Edward Le Bas, RA, March-April 1963, no. 128 (titled Environs de Pontoise).
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., Recent Acquisitions XXI, November-December 1966, no. 10 (illustrated; titled Printemps à Pontoise).
New York, The Jewish Museum, Camille Pissarro: Impressions of City and Country, September 2007-February 2008, p. 78 (illustrated in color, p. 37, pl. 7).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

In his catalogue raisonné of Pissarro's work, the artist's son Ludovic Rodo titled this delightful rural landscape Printemps à Pontoise (op. cit., p. 100). More recently, however, Joachim Pissarro has noted that the same group of houses appears at slightly closer range in an autumn scene from Louveciennes that bears the date 1869 (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, no. 137), indicating that the present view must have been painted at Louveciennes as well, before Pissarro left for Pontoise in April 1872. Although the trees are still bare, all signs of the winter freeze have dissipated. The path in the foreground is rendered in touches of pale green and yellow, suggesting a new growth of young grass; the earth of the garden plot is a damp and fertile brownish-mauve; and the sky is a limpid blue, with none of the pallor of winter. Moreover, the figure in the foreground, his cerulean smock echoing the color of the sky above, appears to be breaking ground for sowing, a clear sign of impending spring. The painting should therefore be placed in February or March 1872, in the last weeks that Pissarro spent at Louveciennes--the town that saw the emergence of his characteristically Impressionist manner.

The painting depicts two clusters of modest village houses, set at the top of a gentle rise in the land. Rather than painting them from the main street, Pissarro has set up his easel on a grassy path to the rear of the houses, which afforded him a view of the adjoining kitchen garden, enclosed by a rustic wooden fence. The two groups of houses are arranged in a screen across the middle ground, with only the plot of land that separates them giving access into depth. Likewise, the path runs parallel to the picture plane for almost the full length of the canvas before turning at a right angle into the distance, enclosing the row of houses protectively. The two women at the right, their backs turned to the viewer, have just passed the tall tree that articulates the bend in the path and are approaching the screen of trees that effectively marks out the boundary between near and far. The carefully controlled spatial recession of the painting and the strict geometry of the cubic houses are offset by Pissarro's delicate, trembling facture and the effervescence of the landscape's natural shapes: the graceful, spreading tree branches, the delicately rolling hills, the cottony cumulus clouds. Christopher Lloyd and Anne Distel have written:

"The artist retains a firmly controlled geometric structure as the framework for his compositions, but he employs a lighter touch in his brushwork and a brighter palette, both of which show the influence of Monet, whose technique of freely applying broken, separate patches of pure pigment Pissarro approached closely at this time. The paintings dating from the opening years of the 1870s may, like those of Monet and Renoir, with good reason be described as the most purely Impressionist in Pissarro's entire oeuvre" (Pissarro, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1980, p. 79).

The first owner of the present painting was Félix-François Depeaux, whom Distel has described (along with the Havemeyers) as one of the most important "second generation" collectors of Impressionism (Impressionism: The First Collectors, New York, 1989, p. 29). In 1909, Depeaux made a bequest of fifty-three paintings to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, including works by Pissarro, Sisley, and Monet. This remains today one of the largest and most significant collections of Impressionist painting in France outside of the Musée d'Orsay.

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