This work will be included in the forthcoming Camille Pissarro catalogue critique of pastels and gouaches, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
One of the largest and most significant groups of paintings that Pissarro made during the 1880s portrays rural women engaged in everyday chores out of doors and in--watering the garden, digging, picking cabbages, pushing wheelbarrows, gathering grass, tending animals and sewing, as in the present work--and at rest (fig. 1). Impressionist scholar Richard Brettell has written, "These works are a major contribution to Impressionist figure painting and are, in effect, a critical part of the collective Impressionist portrait of contemporary French society" (Pissarro's People, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown and elsewhere, 2011, p. 171). The quiet reverie of the peasant in the present gouache is contrasted with the intensity of the artist's own labor, which is recorded in the composition's dense facture of overlapping strokes. Joachim Pissarro has noted, "Even at the height of his Neo-Impressionist period, Pissarro took definite liberties with the 'scientific' rigor of the theories in which he, Seurat, and Signac shared a passionate interest... balancing, in a constant tension, rigor and improvisation, system and individual freedom, science and poetry" (ibid., p. 221).
Femme raccommodant des bas first appeared at auction in 1901 shortly before the artist's death and thereafter in 1976, at which sale the family of the present owner acquired it.
(fig. 1) Camille Pissarro, Young Peasant Woman Drinking Her Café au Lait, 1881. The Art Institute of Chicago.