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

Paysage avec cheval blanc dans un pré, L'Hermitage

Details
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Paysage avec cheval blanc dans un pré, L'Hermitage
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1872' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (46 x 55 cm.)
Painted in 1872
Provenance
Pierre Firmin Martin ("Père Martin"), Paris.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris.
Literature
L. R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro; Son art - son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, no. 164, p. 102, vol. II, pl. 33, no. 164.
C. Kunstler, Pissarro, villes et campagnes, Lausanne, 1967, no. 8, p. 19 (illustrated).
C. Kunstler, Camille Pissarro, Milan, 1971, no. 4, p. 21 (illustrated).
L. R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro; Son art - son oeuvre, San Francisco, 1989, vol. I, no. 164, p. 102, vol. II, pl. 33, no. 164.
J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, no. 113, p. 118 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux, pastels et gouaches par Camille Pissarro, January-February 1921, no. 16.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition Camille Pissarro, June-September 1956, no. 12.
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Camille Pissarro, January-March 1957, no. 21 (illustrated p. 11).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Camille Pissarro, March-May 1965, no. 11.
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, and New York, Jewish Museum; Camille Pissarro: Impressionist innovator, October 1994-January 1995, no. 43 (illustrated).
Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Impressionism to the present; Camille Pissarro and his descendants, January-April 2000, no. 17 (illustrated in colour).
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

The years between 1872 and 1874 were amongst the most successful in Pissarro's career, and constituted the period when the artist fully developed his Impressionist technique. His Pontoise pictures were to have a profound influence upon a whole new generation of painters, notably Cézanne and Gauguin, who came to Pontoise to paint alongside Pissarro.

"Stylistically, the first half of the 1870s is perhaps Pissarro's best known creative period, and the canvases painted in England and shortly afterwards in France have been more readily appreciated than those painted at any other time in his whole career. 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 the time. The paintings dating from the opening years of the 1870s therefore may, like those of Monet or Renoir, with good reason be described as the most purely Impressionist in Pissarro's oeuvre" (C. Lloyd and A. Distel, exh. cat., Pissarro, Hayward Gallery, London, 1980-81, p. 79).

The first years of the 1870s coincided with a period of intense upheaval in Pissarro's life. Upon the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Pissarro left for London to stay with his son Lucien. When he returned to Louveciennes, where he had been living just before the war, Pissarro discovered that his house and studio had been ransacked and destroyed by the Prussian officers who had occupied the house during the Paris siege. Of the 1500 paintings he had left behind in the house, only about 40 survived.

The following year, in 1872, Pissarro and his family moved from Louveciennes to Pontoise, where he focussed his entire work on the local landscape of Pontoise and the nearby hamlets of L'Hermitage and Saint-Martin. This move was of huge consequence within Pissarro's career, insofar as throughout the years of high Impressionism from 1874 (the year of the first Impressionist exhibition) to 1882, Camille Pissarro's work was rooted iconographically and topically to the countryside around Pontoise.

The French critic, Théodore Duret was the first to recognise the rural character of Pissarro's sensibility and to encourage him to paint in a manner appropriate to his imagery. In a letter to Pissarro dated from the 6 of December, 1873, Duret writes:

'I persist in thinking that rustic nature with animals is what suits your talent best. You haven't Sisley's decorative feeling, nor Monet's fantastic eye, but you have what they have not, an intimate and profound feeling for nature and a power of brush, with the result that a beautiful picture by you is something absolutely definitive' (C. Lloyd, Pissarro, Geneva, 1981, p. 73).

Pissarro's debt to Monet in the present picture appears considerable. The influence of the young artist is dominant in the colour and brushwork of the painting. By comparison to earlier works, Pissarro's palette becomes brighter, with a range of soft greens and blues, and the light sharper, so that the entire work almost seems like a hommage to Monet and, more specifically, to Impressionism. Later in life, however, Pissarro was to confess about this period: 'I remember that, though I was full of ardour, I did not have the slightest idea, even at the age of forty, of the profound aspect of the movement which we pursued instinctively. It was in the air' (quoted in: B. Denvir, Encyclopedia of Impressionism, London, 1990, p. 167).

The present picture was owned by the renowned Pierre-Firmin Martin, also better known as "Père Martin", a small-time dealer on whom the Impressionists frequently relied during the early stages of their careers. Père Martin handled paintings by Corot, Jongkind, Renoir, Monet, Cézanne and, of course, Pissarro. From 1869, his shop was at 52 rue Laffitte, the street where Durand-Ruel also operated. In 1870, in the Salon's catalogue, Pissarro went as far as listing Père Martin's address as his agent and, in 1874, Martin was the director of the Private Company of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers which organised the first Impressionist exhibition. Thus Martin was a pioneer of early Impressionism, with little money himself, who tried to sell the works of the Impressionists who had no success elsewhere, so as to enable them to afford the costs of their art supplies. Théodore Duret described Martin as in the following words: 'il avait été d'abord chanteur-choriste avant de se mettre à vendre des tableaux dont les plus chers atteignaient de 1000 à 1500 francs. Il avait du goût et était connaisseur d'instinct. Il avait un des premiers vendu des Corot. Il s'était ensuite longtemps, presque seul, consacré à la tâche alors difficile de faire accepter les oeuvres de Jongkind. Puis y étant parvenu, il avait passé à d'autres ignorés. En 1870, à peu près seul, il présentait aux amateurs des toiles de Pissarro. Il les achetait au peintre 40 francs, cherchait à obtenir 80, et quand il ne pouvait y réussir , ce qui était souvent le cas, il se rabattait sur le prix de 60 francs, satisfait d'un bénéfice de 20 francs. Ces toiles qu'offrait le Père Martin à un prix si minime sont aujourd'hui les plus recherchée dans l'oeuvre de Pissarro. C'étaient généralement des grands chemins bordés d'arbres, des vue de villages agrestes qui ont depuis longtemps pris place dans les meilleurs collections'.

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