Description & Technical information

It is in Eragny, where he settled in 1884, that Camille Pissarro executed this large watercolor. Located on the shores of the river Epte,the area offered to him an insatiable source for his paintings, driven
by the Impressionist desire to render the light effects and the vibrations of the atmosphere. If landscapes are a major part of his work before 1884, his themes expand while in Eragny. From the mid to the late 1880s, Camille Pissarro is interested in the depiction of peasants and their work like shown in our watercolor. He soon moved away from his
Impressionist friends and their almost exclusive representations of bourgeoisie and modern and urban life, by following the line of Jean-François Millet and his rural universe. But the chromatic variations allowed by the watercolor and wash, the vibration of light
that emanates, show in "Paysanne faisant du feu", his persisting interest for the changes of light and its effects, which were dear to the Impressionists.

In July 1888, a letter from Pissarro's hand to his son attests the achievement of an oil on canvas titled "Gelée
blanche, jeune paysanne faisant du feu", (today kept in a private collection). Preparatory study to this oil, our watercolor reveals the way the artist proceeded and his perfectionism in the quest of pure and balanced composition. The artistic progression of Pissarro is visible in several details: the young boy who's turning his back to the spectator on the paper, is facing him on the canvas, where he seems to warm up his hands near the fire, the silhouette of the female peasant is rising proud while the cow herd is reduced to few animals only in the final
version.

A masterpiece by Pissarro, the painting "Gelée blanche,
jeune paysanne faisant du feu" shows the stylistic changes that occurred in his art in the middle of the 1880s. Although part of the founding members of Impressionism, participating in every group exhibitions of the movement, he was also one of the firsts to understand and defend at
the same time, the new ambitions of painters like Georges Seurat or Paul Signac. With these colors applied in small juxtaposed lines, as well as the harmony and chromatic balance, the oil on canvas shows the new investment of Pissarro towards the neo-impressionsit artists.
Our watercolor is a precious testimony of this turn of Pissarro's artistic evolution both stylistic and dogmatic, through the iconic image of a rural population working in the fields.

Monogrammed lower left : C.P.


Date:  Circa 1888
Period:  19th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Watercolor and charcoal on laid paper
Dimensions: 46.8 x 48 cm (18³/₈ x 18⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: 

Gérard-Henri Gilbert Collection, expert in philately.



Literature: Joachim Pissarro et Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro : Catalogue Critique des peintures, Tome III, Éditions Skira / Wildenstein Institute, Milan/Paris, 2005, illustrated p.560.
Musée Gustave Courbet, Ornans, Courbet et l'impressionnisme, exhibition catalogue, Silvana Editoriale, 2016, illustrated under the n°78, p.206.

Exhibitions: Courbet et l'impressionisme, Ornans, Musée Gustave Courbet, July 9th - October 17th, 2016, n°78.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints