La maison de Monsieur Musy, route de Marly, Louveciennes dates from Pissarro's most artistically creative period. It was between 1872 and 1874 in Louveciennes and Pontoise, that Pissarro perfected the style of Impressionism and won the confidence of the dealers and collectors of the period: '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 therefore 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).
Often described as the 'cradle of Impressionism' Louveciennes and its environs drew large numbers of painters and Sisley, Monet, Renoir often painted its landscapes. Pissarro lived in Louveciennes between spring 1869 and April 1872, with a break of 10 months, when he was forced to take refuge during the Prussian invasion of France, first with his friend Piette in Montfoucault and then in London. Located only seventeen kilometres northwest of Paris, between the river Seine and the forest of Marly, this charming village is surrounded by Le Port-Marly to the north, La Celle-Saint-Cloud to the south, Bougival to the east, and Marly-le-Roi to the west.
Pissarro lived at 22 route de Versailles, directly across from the rue du Parc-de-Marly and 'painted some seventy canvases during his years of residence at Louveciennes, never wearying of depicting the route de Versailles and its immediate vicinity. His wanderings in search of motifs also took him to the grounds of the château at Marly-le-Roy and the banks of the Seine at Bougival and Le Port-Marly. Thus his Louveciennes period already evinces the essential features of his pictorial practice: his habit of scouting out a few favourite spots and then systematically working their pictorial resources. This approach was to characterise the series of pictures he would later paint at Pontoise and Éragny, if not the cityscapes of his final years' (J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op.cit., p. 123).
The present painting depicts the house of Monsieur Musy, one of the artist's favourite subjects at Louveciennes and one to which he returned on several occasions (see J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op.cit., nos. 133, 161, 178, 206 and 216). In the the present work, the house is seen looking down the the route de Marly towards Marly-le-Roi. The low building on the right is the shed where the pit-sawyer M. Musy stored his planks. To the left the road skirts the grounds of the château de Marly. The painting is suffused with a cool crisp light and the freshness of the countryside which characterises the best works of this period.
La maison de Monsieur Musy, route de Marly, Louveciennes has a distinguished provenance. The first recorded owner was the celebrated American collector Catholina Lambert, who assembled one of the finest private American collections of the early twentieth-century until its sale, which included the present work, in February 1916. The entire collection of 365 pictures and 27 works of sculpture, including works from Botticelli to Monet, was displayed in the Galleries of the American Art Association in New York before the four day sale. The painting was purchased at the sale by Pissarro's dealer, Galerie Durand-Ruel, who sold it to Alex Reid & Lefevre in 1928. A year later, in 1929, La maison de Monsieur Musy, route de Marly, Louveciennes, entered the celebrated collection of Sir Michael Kroyer-Kielberg, from whom the painting has descended to the present owner.