Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Le Cours-la-Reine à Rouen, temps gris

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Le Cours-la-Reine à Rouen, temps gris
signed and dated 'C.Pissarro.98' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21¼ x 25 5/8 in. (54 x 65.1 cm.)
Painted in 1898
Frédéric Picq, Paris.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 27 November 1907 and until 20 January 1948).
M. Turover, Paris.
Galerie Schmit, Paris (acquired from the above).
Galerie René Drouet, Paris (acquired from the above, 1966).
Sam Salz, New York (circa 1966).
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York (circa 1967).
Acquavella Galleries, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. A. Varick Stout, Greenwich; sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 2-4 May 1973, lot 58.
Galerie Odermatt-Cazeau, Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Yoshii Gallery, Tokyo (circa 1984).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1989.
L.-R. Pissarro, and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art--son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 227, no. 1046 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 210). C. Lloyd, ed., Studies on Camille Pissarro, New York, 1987, p. 93. J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, p. 762, no. 1220 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux et gouaches par Camille Pissarro, 10-26 January 1910, p. 5, no. 54.
Vienna, Galerie Miethke, Französische Impressionisten, March 1913, no. 14.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Camille Pissarro, December 1923, no. 16.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux par Camille Pissarro, February-March 1928, no. 83.
Caracas, Galeria Conkright, Obras impressionistas y post-impressionistas de la colección de Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, February-March 1967, no. 12.
Kanazawa, Room MRO; Osaka, Navio Museum; Kumamoto Prefectural Museum and Okayama Prefectural Cultural Center, Le Néo-impressionnisme, September-December 1984, no. 59.
Nagoya, Matsuzakaya Art Museum; Nara Prefectural Museum of Art and Hiroshima Museum of Art, World Impressionism and Plein-airism, March-July 1991, no. 35.


Mariana Gantus
Mariana Gantus


Pissarro painted this riverside view of the Seine during his fourth stay in Rouen, which lasted from 23 July to 17 October 1898. He first worked in this city during 1883, and returned there for two separate painting "campaigns" in the early months and autumn of 1896. Fascinated by Rouen's historic architecture and its active port, and the all-important role of the Seine's waters in the life and light of the city, Pissarro went so far to exclaim that Rouen "is as beautiful as Venice... there are marvels wherever I look!" (quoted in R.E. Shikes and P. Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, New York, 1980, p. 295).

Periodically tiring of painting the views around his home in Éragny, Pissarro felt the need to travel in order to find new motifs, but this was an expensive proposition. The artist and his family had endured some very lean times, especially during the late 1880s and early 1890s, when Pissarro was the only charter Impressionist who had boldly experimented with the newfangled, revelatory, but unfortunately noncommercial divisionist technique that Seurat and Signac had pioneered. Pissarro eventually put behind him the confining discipline of this phase, though not the value of what he had learned about color, and by the mid-1890s the dealer Durand Ruel was buying up most of his newly invigorated Impressionist production. This tenuously secure income enabled Pissarro to pay off the debt he owed on his home, and furthermore afforded him the freedom to travel and spend more time away from Éragny.

During his previous stay in Rouen, Pissarro had availed himself of the same rooms at the Hôtel d'Angleterre, 7-8 cours Boïeldieu, that Monet had used when he worked on his series of Rouen Cathedral paintings in 1892-1893. Pissarro returned to this same hotel in the summer of 1898. His lodgings overlooked the Seine and offered a fine view of the bustling quays and the endless stream of pedestrian and cart traffic over the nearby Ponts Boïeldieu and Corneille, which spanned the Seine in the heart of the city.

Pissarro painted twenty pictures during his fourth stay in Rouen (J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, nos. 1218-1237). Three depict the town marketplace on the rue de L'Épicerie, seven focus on the bridges and the suburbs of Rouen on the opposite bank of the river, and eight show commercial river traffic and waterfront activity along the quays below his hotel window. The remaining three canvases, including the present work, are Impressionist river landscapes in a classic, pastoral mode. To arrive on site, Pissarro crossed to the opposite bank of the Seine, and set up his easel in the riverside park of Le Cours-la-Reine. Here he looked upstream (in the direction of Paris), facing the Île Brouilly--an island in the Seine now joined to the larger Île Lacroix--and beyond it, the hill of Bon-Secours. The arches of the Pont du Chemin de Fer, the third bridge in Rouen, which carried the railway line across the Seine by way of the Île Brouilly, are visible at far right.

This painting is one of two views of this subject; the other, done on a larger canvas, depicts a sunny afternoon (J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., no. 1219). Notwithstanding its overcast sky, the present version is no less bright and vibrant than its close relation, and within its smaller format, this canvas shows off the spontaneity and liveliness of typically impressionist alla prima brushwork to excellent advantage. John Rewald has observed, "After abandoning divisionism, [Pissarro] returned to his impressionist conceptions; his work regained its original freshness, while a greater lightness and purity of color remained as a result of his divisionist experiments. Now over sixty, he devoted himself to his art with such enthusiasm, optimism, and youthfulness that he inspired veneration in all who met him" (in The History of Impressionism, New York, 1975, 4th rev. ed., pp. 568 and 570).