Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts will include this painting in their forthcoming Pissarro catalogue raisonné being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Figure subjects, which had occupied Pissarro extensively at the beginning of the 1870s, began to re-assert their place in his art in the early 1890s, when he commenced a long sequence of pictures recording peasants going about their daily tasks in the countryside. In 1884, Pissarro settled in Eragny-sur-Epte, a small town sixty miles from Paris, close to the Normandy border. The town consisted of houses set in a row along the main road that bisected the village. Joachim Pissarro comments:
'Unlike Pontoise, whose tensions were those of a suburban town, semirural and semiurban, in Eragny, no signs of industry could be observed for miles. Varied expanses of pasture and cultivated land complete the visual field. However, Eragny's earthly space is not banal. For twenty years Pissarro concentrated on this very confined area, on the visual material offered by the stretch of meadows lying in front of him, informed by poplars, gates, the river, and produced over two hundred paintings of these motifs. His representations of these fields and gardens constitute the most spectacularly intense pictorial effort to 'cover' a particular given space in his career' (J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 225).
After experimenting with the divisionist brushwork and colour theories championed by Seurat and the neo-impressionist artists, Pissarro abandoned pointillism in 1890. However the emphasis on the structural web of coloured strokes which constitutes the neo-impressionist's pictorial surface drew Pissarro's attention to the physical make-up of a painting. He became worried by the refinement of his handling, and although by the later 1890s he had abandoned the strict 'point', he was still using a very delicate touch. Lavandières à Eragny suggests a manner that is a hybrid of pointillism and impressionism, where the highly-keyed colour, a legacy of the 1880s, is augmented by a freer handling reminiscent of the 1870s.