Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Vue de ma fenêtre, inondation, effet du soir, Eragny

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Vue de ma fenêtre, inondation, effet du soir, Eragny
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1893' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 21¼ in. (65 x 53.9 cm.)
Painted in 1893
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, 16 December 1893).
Paul Durand-Ruel, Paris.
Mme Joseph Durand-Ruel (by descent from the above).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 13 November 1944).
Mr. Raoul (acquired from the above, 14 November 1944).
Lock Galleries, New York.
Victoria Dreyfus, New York; estate sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 26 May 1976, lot 9.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.
L.-R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art-son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 198, no. 834 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 170; titled, L'inondation, effet du soir, Eragny).
J. Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondence de Camille Pissarro, Paris, 1991, vol. III, no. 872, p. 311 (no. 11); no. 971, p. 410 (no. 9).
J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York and London, 1993, p. 234 (illustrated).
M. Ward, Pissarro, Neo-Impressionism and the Spaces of the Avant-Garde, Chicago and London, 1996, p. 254 (illustrated).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, p. 636, no. 977 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Quatrième exposition particuliere de Camille Pissarro, March 1893, no. 24.
Memphis, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Homage to Camille Pissarro, May-June 1980, no. 3.
Hanover, Hood Museum of Art, From Titian to Sargent, September-November 1987, no. 47.
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum and New York, The Jewish Museum, Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Innovator, July 1994-July 1995, p. 193, no. 102 (illustrated in color).


The present canvas is part of a series of five views that Pissarro painted from the second-floor window of his house at Eragny during the flooding of the River Epte in the opening months of 1893 (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, nos. 977-981). In the foreground of the painting is the artist's garden, delineated by a low white wall (see Lot 43, fig. 3). Just beyond the wall is a small apple tree with a distinctive bent trunk, which Pissarro painted repeatedly during the two decades that he lived at Eragny. In the middle ground lies an expanse of meadow, partially submerged in flood waters, and on a gentle slope in the distance are visible the houses of the neighboring village of Bazincourt. Pissarro was not the only Impressionist artist to be captivated by the effects of a flood. Monet painted the inundation of Argenteuil in 1872-1873, of Vétheuil in 1881, and of Giverny in 1896 (Wildenstein, nos. 251-253, 638-643, 1438-1439); among Sisley's best-known paintings are six views of the flooding of the Seine at Port-Marly in the spring of 1876 (Daulte, nos. 236-241). Traditionally, the flood had been the subject of high drama in art. The scene of winter in Poussin's 1660-1664 cycle of the four seasons, for instance, exploits the theme as a metaphor for divine wrath, while Huet's Deluge à Saint-Cloud of 1855 emphasizes man's helplessness in the face of nature's destructive force (both Musée du Louvre, Paris). In contrast, Pissarro and his fellow Impressionists were drawn to scenes of flood as a means of exploring transformations in a familiar landscape, part of their broader interest in rendering the fugitive effects of nature.

In March 1893, just weeks after it was painted, the present canvas was included in an important single-artist exhibition of forty-six works by Pissarro at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. Nineteen works were views from the artist's window at Eragny, including four of the five flood scenes from 1893. Eight paintings in the exhibition depicted Kew Gardens in London, and four canvases showed Octave Mirbeau's garden at Les Damps; the remaining fifteen works were grouped simply as Paysages and Figures. Relative to the tightly controlled series that Monet was painting around this time, most notably the Grainstacks and the Poplars of 1890-1891, Pissarro's series were noteworthy for their diversity of effect. Although the views from his window, for instance, were unified by their elevated vantage point, they employed a range of formats and angles of vision, and depicted the landscape at different times of day, under different weather conditions, and in different seasons. Martha Ward has explained:

"It was at this show that Pissarro first exhibited series paintings, his first experiments in what was clearly Monet's new modality. Rather than emulate the homogenous and self-enclosed world of the Monet series...on Pissarro included in his show three different and incomplete projects. Whether by design or happenstance, they played off each other. The Série des jardins de Kew depicted the casual and open sweeps of the London city garden...The Série des vues de ma fenêtre à Eragny showed agricultural landscapes in different seasons...The Série des jardins represented the opulent gardens of Octave Mirbeau, with exotic flowers, sheltered and overgrown spaces..." (in op. cit., pp. 254-255).

Of the forty-six paintings in the 1893 exhibition, twenty-one were from Durand-Ruel's stock, and the remainder were on consignment from Pissarro. Of the latter group, nearly all were sold to the dealer after the show, including the present canvas. The income from this purchase was sufficient to allow Pissarro to undertake the transformation of a barn on his property at Eragny into a painting studio later in 1893.