Arts of Europe


Statue d'Henri IV, matin, soleil d'hiver (Statue of Henri-IV, Morning, Winter Sunlight), 1900
Camille Pissarro (France, born Danish Virgin Islands, 1830–1903)
Oil on canvas
29 x 36 3/4 inches
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Merle J. Trees 1951-1-2

Although the impressionist Camille Pissarro is primarily remembered for depictions of rural life, during the last decade of his life he produced over three hundred paintings of French cities. In Paris he made several series of paintings from different rooms he rented in hotels or apartment buildings. Many of them were painted on the Île de la Cité, and among these most, like Krannert Art Museum's canvas, show the Vert Galant, a park at the island's westernmost tip.

Pissarro's late Parisian paintings took up the imagery that Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre-August Renoir, and, especially, Claude Monet had focused on in the 1870s: tree-lined boulevards, strolling pedestrians, traffic, and the architecture of Paris. This direction was in part a consequence of Pissarro's failing eyesight, which required him to work indoors, but it may also reflect a new curiosity about urban life (and perhaps a shrewd awareness of the marketability of such images).

Statue d’Henri IV, matin, soleil d’hiver harkens back to a motif frequent in Pissarro's work of the 1870s: screens of trees in front of architectural backgrounds or the sky. Juxtaposing near and far, ethereal and solid, and dark and light, here Pissarro dabbed on paint to capture the color of a distant roof bleeding through the space between two branches. His varying handling of paint—from agitated, heavily reworked passages to areas of broad wet-into-wet strokes—provides a rich and textured surface. Pissarro's commitment to perceptual experience is evident in his efforts to capture the fleeting visual effects of the season, weather, and time of day.

Text by David O'Brien, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008

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