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

Laveuse dans le jardin d'Eragny

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Laveuse dans le jardin d'Eragny
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro. 1899' (lower right)
oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 28 ¾ in. (60 x 73.2 cm.)
Painted in Eragny, 1899
Julie Pissarro, Paris (by descent from the artist, 1904).
Ludovic-Rodolphe Pissarro, Paris (gift from the above, 1921).
Dr. W. Hanhart, Basel (circa 1957).
Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York.
Schoneman Galleries, Inc., New York.
Madelaine and B. Bernard Kreisler, Greenwich, Connecticut (acquired from the above, by 1959).
Private collection, New Orleans (by descent from the above, 1976); sale, Christie's, New York, 4 November 2003, lot 16.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art–son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 232, no. 1081 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 216; titled Laveuse à Eragny).
J. Bailly-Herzberg, ed., Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, Paris, 1991, vol. 5, pp. 32-33, no. 1642.
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, p. 790, no. 1272 (illustrated in color).
R.R. Brettell, Pissarro's People, exh. cat., San Francisco, Legion of Honor and Williamstown, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011 (illustrated in situ, p. 292).
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Camille Pissarro, 1830-1903, January-March 1957, p. 18, no. 103 (titled Laveuse à Eragny).
New Orleans Museum of Art, 1987-2003 (on extended loan).
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In June 1899, after spending the winter and spring painting cityscapes in Paris, Pissarro returned to Eragny, a rural hamlet on the banks of the Epte that had been his home–and the principal inspiration for his art–for fifteen years. “Pissarro could never get enough of Eragny,” Joachim Pissarro has written. “His infrequent travels always brought him back to Eragny with renewed resources, fresh ideas, and an eagerness to paint the same and yet ever different locations once again” (Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 241). He devoted a few days in mid-June to scouring the wider area for promising motifs for his summer campaign, but he found nothing that inspired him nearly as much as the single square mile of gardens and meadows around his own house. “It’s very beautiful here–you can make a masterpiece out of next to nothing,” he wrote to his son Lucien. “The number of beautiful motifs I’ve found in the garden! And there are more! I’ve found nothing better than my present surroundings” (quoted in J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, op. cit., 2005, vol. I, pp. 290-292).
Laveuse dans le jardin d'Eragny depicts an apron-clad woman washing clothes in a large wooden tub set on top of a three-legged stool. The canvas is the largest and latest–the definitive statement–among nine oils and gouaches on this theme that Pissarro made over the course of his career, at Montfoucault and Pontoise in the later 1870s and then at Eragny in the ensuing two decades (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, nos. 419, 548, 589, 1010, 1217; Pissarro and Venturi, nos. 1409, 1439, 1489). Immediately to the laundress’s left in the present version are the stairs leading to Pissarro’s studio, a converted barn adjacent to his house. This tranquil spot, with its curving path and verdant canopy of delicate, slender-trunked trees, was one that the artist particularly favored. “One extraordinary motif is the garden at the foot of the stairs to the studio,” he wrote in 1899, perhaps with this very painting in mind (quoted in ibid., p. 292).
In contrast to the laundress paintings that Pissarro made in the 1870s, in which the figures stoop uncomfortably over their basins and scrub with obvious vigor, the present scene is suffused with a sense of harmony and ease. The woman’s labors appear only lightly taxing, and the gentle arc of her back is echoed in the overhanging tree branches, integrating her into the warm, sun-dappled landscape. An admirer of the anarchist writer Peter Kropotkin’s theories of the modern countryside, Pissarro contrasts the quiet reverie of his rural workers from Eragny with the intensity of his own artistic efforts, recorded in a dense facture of thousands of individual touches of paint. “Pissarro turned domestic service from a class-based system of perpetual servitude into healthy, clean, and comfortable work,” Richard Brettell has concluded, “and, because of this, his paintings are subtly but profoundly anarchist” (Pissarro’s People, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2011, p. 145).
Artist Photo
Pissarro’s Studio at Eragny, circa 1901. BARCODE: nyrphhsc

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