Landscape at Eragny


Camille Pissarro ( French, 1830 - 1903 )

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General Description

On 14 January 1891, Camille Pissarro wrote to his eldest son, Lucien: "I have mounted my watercolors on loose paper so that I can make various series in portfolios. Do you think I should exhibit them? It will cost me too much to mount them, I think. I have one hundred sixty-one. Georges [Lucien's younger brother] finds them more beautiful than my paintings" (Rewald 1981, 177). "Landscape at Eragny" is surely one of those watercolors, and of the small number of these masterpieces that have been published, it is among the finest and best preserved. Pissarro was at a critical point in his long career in 1890, when he made this and most of the other watercolors referred to in the letter. His production of paintings, which was hampered by the laborious technique of neo-impressionism, had dwindled considerably (he produced only eight dated canvases in 1889 and fifteen in 1890). In addition, his income was minimal, not only because he had produced fewer paintings, but because amateur collectors had not responded to the "dotted" technique of the neo-impressionists. For Pissarro in 1890, it was critical to make money and rethink his position as a painter. He seems to have done this by using the medium of watercolor, at which he was an acknowledged master. From the windows of his farm home and studio in central Normandy, Pissarro consoled himself by painting scores of landscapes - in rain and snow, in fog and mist, at dawn and sunset, in every season. In each, the landscape forms are arranged in bands parallel to the picture plane, and the effects of atmosphere, light, and time intercede, giving their particular character to what was in reality a monotonous landscape motif. These watercolors record his moods and embody his constancy of vision in this very difficult year. "Impressionist Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection," page 101