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 that in her opinion this work is authentic.
Pissarro executed approximately 90 fans between 1878 and 1895. The artist, along with his contemporaries Edgar Degas and Jean-Louis Forain, was drawn to the japonisme of fan painting and the challenge it posed in composing his subjects. In his revival of the 18th century craft of fan painting, Pissarro depicted full compositional narratives as opposed to ornate decoration. In addition to depicting the natural beauty of the French countryside and the rural workers which he memorialized in his compositions, the shape of the fan forced Pissarro to concentrate on the relationship between foreground and background. The curved, elongated format of the fan creates the effect of distant receding space, and lends itself to a panoramic view. In the present work, Pissarro masterfully anchors his composition by emphasizing the sides–on the left with the presence of the paysan and paysanne, and on the right through the strong diagonals of the crops in the field which recede back into space. Key characteristics of Pissarro’s work from this period are detailed here: the placement of the figure in front of the picture, the disruption of traditional spatial unity, and the effect of dappled light spread evenly over figure and background.
As Christoper Lloyd has described, “For Pissarro the adoption of the fan as an art form came at a critical time, namely the close of the 1870s. To a certain extent the fan may have assisted Pissarro in his search for compositional unity. The emphasis that had to be placed on the two corners of the fan meant that figures were given prominence against the background. Landscapes and horizon lines in the upper half of the fan either have a horizontal emphasis or else echo the curvature of the fan itself. Whilst many of the compositions are reworkings of earlier works, Pissarro also showed considerable originality in this format. He sought different atmospheric effects in compositions of seasonal import, but at the same time did not spurn more ‘modern’ themes, such as the railway bridge at Pontoise and the port at Rouen” (C. Lloyd, Pissarro, exh. cat. London Arts Council, 1980, p. 235).