Fine Art

Camille Pissarro

French, 1830-1903

Country Scene with a House along a Road

c. 1875-188
Watercolor and pencil on paper
5 x 8 1/4 inches (12.7 x 20.9 cm)
Framed: 22 1/2 x 26 1/2 inches (57 x 67 cm)
Stamped: CP

Provenance:

Stern Pissarro Gallery, UK
Private collection, USA

Literature:

This work is to be included in forthcoming Catalogue Raisonne, Drawings of Camille Pissarro by Dr Joachim Pissarro.

Note: Dr. Joachim Pissarro believes this sheet came from one of Pissarro's sketchbooks, most likely from Sketchbook VII, in Brettell and Lloyd's Catalogue of Drawings by Camille Pissarro in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, which Pissarro used in the second half of the 1870's

Camille Pissarro was born on July 10, 1830, to French Jewish parents on the island of Saint Thomas (Virgin Island, West Indies).  He attended boarding school at Passy, near Paris, but eventually returned to Saint Thomas in 1848.  In 1853, he left for Caracas with the Danish painter Fritz Melbye who became his first serious artistic influence.  After a brief return to Saint Thomas, he left again for France in 1855 where he studied at institutions in Paris like the École des Beaux-Arts and Académie Suisse and with Barbizon masters such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, and Charles-François Daubigny.  He was invited to show at the Salon throughout the 1860s but in 1863, he participated in the infamous Salon des Refusés. 

Pissarro lived intermittently in Louveciennes, a village west of Paris, and here he often worked in close proximity with Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley.  The influence of these artists encouraged him to reexamine his method of landscape painting.  However, this exchange of artistic influence was disrupted by the Franco-Prussian War.  He moved to London in 1870 and continued to work.  In London, he also made the acquaintance of Paul Durand-Ruel, the Parisian dealer who would become a devoted supporter.  He soon returned to France and settled in Pontoise and throughout the early 1870s produced works in the Impressionist style. He took part in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and showed at all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions, the last of which took place in 1886.

In his studio, Pissarro frequently received young artists seeking guidance, including Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. He was a unique figure who was open to new influences of the latest generation of artists.  He met Paul Signac and Georges Seurat and was thus exposed to the Divisionist technique rooted in the scientific study of optics of the Neo-Impressionists. 

By the end of his life, Pissarro was seen as a leading Impressionist figure as the movement gained greater recognition.  The Post-Impressionists admired him, and Cézanne and Gauguin referred to him toward the end of their own careers as their master.  In the last years of his life, he lost much of his vision, which forced him to abandon outdoor painting.  He continued to work in his studio until his death in Paris on November 13, 1903.

Pissarro painted many scenes of the country villages outside of Paris where he lived and visited during his lifetime, often painting views of the villages’ various roads. Our drawing’s size and its perforation on the left edge indicate that it came from one of the artist’s sketchbooks, most likely Sketchbook VII, in Brettell & Lloyd’s Catalogue of Drawings by Camille Pissarro in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, which is how the sheet is dated to the second half of the 1870s.

In our drawing, Pissarro builds up the pictorial space with a system of lines which intersect, creating the impression that the picture surface renders a well-constructed cluster of vertical and horizontal planes. Most of the foreground features landscape elements, such as tall trees with verdant canopies, full bushes, and new spring grass. A path winds to the house in the background, which is simply rendered. 

Dr. Joachim Pissarro, in concurrence with Christopher  Lloyd, “point to the artist’s fluid brushwork, in particular the light touches of blue, green, and grey purple, which are emblematic of Camille Pissarro’s finest work within this medium”. The style and subject matter of the drawing, Country Scene with a House along a Road, also indicate that Pissarro most likely produced it in the late 1870s.