Description & Technical information

This work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Dr Joachim Pissarro and will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of Drawings by Camille Pissarro.

Au Marché is a study of figures at a market that dates from 1883. From relatively early on in his career, Pissarro was interested in depicting scenes of outdoor markets and public gatherings with crowds. Pissarro became particularly interested in market scenes around 1880, and continued to explore the market theme through the 1880s and 1890s. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Pissarro’s various market scenes is that they are his first systematic study of the crowd. The great number of figures that are chatting, bargaining and looking at one another suggest that Pissarro’s markets are meeting places of social and economic equals. Au Marché shares similarities with another study of figures at a market scene by Pissarro titled, Study of male figure standing behind a seated female figure, and is no. 206 in A Catalogue of Drawings by Camille Pissarro in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford by Richard Brettell & Christopher Lloyd. The composition of Study of male figure standing behind a seated female figure is similar as both drawings depict a older female figure in the foreground viewed in profile. Both female figures wear a similar basic costume, a scarf with a simple blouse tucked into a skirt with an apron, but the headdress differs slightly as the female figure in the drawing in question has a scarf wrapped around their head while in the drawing in the Ashmolean the female figure wears a bonnet. The verso of Au Marché depicts an outline of a male figure which shares similarities with another drawing of a male figure titled Study of the head and shoulders of an old man seen in profile facing left, illustrated as no. 198 in A Catalogue of Drawings by Camille Pissarro in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford by Richard Brettell & Christopher Lloyd. Perhaps, due to Pissarro’s purchase of Champfleury’s Histoire de la Caricature in 1883, he from then on regularly resorted to caricature and various forms of comic notations within his market scenes. Pissarro believed in emphasising the caricatural aspect of such studies through which the spirit of a figure could often be suggested with only a few lines. The essence of such drawings is the speed of execution and therefore, one of Pissarro’s favoured devices consisted of placing emphasis on one particular part of the character’s garments, instruments, or facial features, which became either prevailing or at least conferred a certain overall connotation on the whole character. Although Au Marché does not appear to relate directly to any known paintings by Pissarro, such studies were useful in paintings with staffage figures.

Date:  1883
Period:  19th century
Origin:  SPG
Medium: Ink on paper
Signature: Stamped lower right, C.P. Inscribed on the reverse and dated, 1883
Dimensions: 10.6 x 7.8 cm (4¹/₈ x 3¹/₈ inches)
Provenance: Mercury Gallery, London
P. Sado, acquired from the above, 5th July 1971
Private collection, London
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints