Description & Technical information

Since 1896, Camille Pissarro endeavored to paint the lif of the port cities, always in search of new landscapes, he captured every motif and instant in order to reproduce them tirelessly. From Dieppe to Rouen he painted his last port views at the age of 73 years. Indeed, it was in 1903, that the artist facing some financial difficulties returned to Le
Havre to paint a series of works commissioned by the collector Pieter Van Velde. He moved from July 4 to September 23, 1903 at the Hotel Continental, located on chaussée des Etats-Unis at the corner of
boulevard François Ier. From the window of his room, he discovered and observed the intense activity of the outer harbor and painted a series of views of the inlet of the Pilots, the Southampton quay, the Sarro and the two breakwaters. Extremely productive, he painted twenty-four views at different times of the day and adapted according to weather whims as he wrote to Peter Van Velde on July 29, 1903. "Due to bad weather for a few days, I had to abandon my series of canvases that I had begun and
to get on to another series of grey and rainy weather, while waiting for the sun to come again to rejoice us, very occupied by my new effects  (...) obliged to be on the lookout, following from window the abrupt changes of effects."

Our beautiful oil on canvas "Entrée du port du Havre et le brise-lame ouest, soleil, mer agitée" is part of this
series of paintings observed by Pissarro from his hotel room. It represents the view of the west breakwater which is a subject that the artist tried to paint several times because it was appreciated by the connoisseurs of Le Havre.

As in most of these works at that time, Pissarro adopted an elevated viewpoint to paint his work. The composition of his canvas is divided in two by the vertical lines of the masts of the boats which break the balance introduced by the horizontal lines of the edge of the quays and the sea. The painter gives a modern representation of the port of Le Havre fully animated. At a glance he captures the departure of the boats, Pissarro accurately reproduces the
atmosphere of this moment, his touch is quick and lively, it consists of small horizontal and vertical segments that influence the movement to the scene. Using a palette of blue and white hues applied in thick touches, the painter transcribes both the sunshine of this day but also the bustle of the sea and the surf of the shoreline. The sailboats and
the liner are simply painted with a few brushstrokes, they become more and more precise according to their entry to the port.
The limits between the sky and the sea are almost non-existent, they are only marked by the differences of colors and matter, the more the point of view is distant the more the field of vision fades away. Here the artist's attention is focused on the sea and its horizons, the framing
is tight and is reminiscent of the photography highly appreciated by the painters of that time. Although it is a complete study of the motif, it remains secondary for the artist, each study of port is for him a state of mind of the landscape not  simple naturalistic reproduction.

Date:  1903
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Suisse
Medium: Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard
Signature: Signed lower right: C. Pissarro

Dimensions: 11.7 x 14.1 cm (4⁵/₈ x 5¹/₂ inches)
Provenance: Gustave Geffroy, Paris.
Léonie Koessler (offered by the above).
Private collection, France.

Literature: Pissarro dans les ports, Rouen - Dieppe - Le Havre, MuMA, Le Havre, 2013, listed under the n°74 p.173, illustrated in color p.921.
J. Pissarro, C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, Vol. III, Wildenstein Institute, Skira, Paris, 2004, reproduced under the n°1524 p.921.

Exhibitions: Pissarro dans les ports, Rouen - Dieppe - Le Havre, April - September 2013, MuMa, Le Havre.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints