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

Marché à la volaille, Pontoise

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Marché à la volaille, Pontoise
signed and dated ‘C. Pissarro 82’ (lower right)
gouache and pastel on paper
31 ¾ x 25 ½ in. (80.7 x 65 cm.)
Executed in 1882
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, 22 November 1882).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, by 1903).
Adolph Lewisohn, New York (acquired from the above, 1 March 1916).
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel A. Lewisohn, New York (by descent from the above, by 1945).
Siegfried and Lola Kramarsky, New York (by 1954).
Private collection, New York (by descent from the above, circa 1961).
By descent from the above to the present owners, 2013.
S. Bourgeois, The Adolph Lewisohn Collection of Modern French Paintings and Sculptures, New York, 1928, p. 86 (illustrated, p. 87).
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro: Son artson oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 269, no. 1361 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 266).
J. Rewald, Camille Pissarro, Paris, 1954 (illustrated in color, pl. 31; titled Le marché à Pontoise).
M. Stein, Camille Pissarro, Copenhagen, 1955 (illustrated in color, pl. 31).
C. Kunstler, Camille Pissarro, Milan, 1974, p. 47 (illustrated, p. 77).
J. Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, Paris, 1980, vol. I, pp. 206-207, no. 148.
J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, London, 1993, pp. 209-210 (illustrated in color, p. 209, fig. 248).
New York, American Art Galleries, Modern Paintings Selected During the Past Summer by Messrs Durand-Ruel Paris, December 1886-January 1887, no. 119.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition, May-June 1888, no. 107.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition Camille Pissarro, February 1892, p. 29, no. 62 (dated 1883).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Camille Pissarro, November-December 1903, no. 12.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Camille Pissarro, January-February 1916, no. 7.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings, May-September 1921, no. 85 (illustrated; titled The Market-Place and with incorrect support).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Camille Pissarro: His Place in Art, For the Benefit of the Goddard Neighborhood Center, October-November 1945, no. 22 (with incorrect medium).
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Innovator, October 1994-January 1995, p. 150, no. 67 (illustrated in color).
Williamstown, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and San Francisco, Legion of Honor, Pissarro's People, June 2011-January 2012, pp. 169, 219, 231 and 307 (detail illustrated in color, p. 220, fig. 165; illustrated in color, p. 230, fig. 178; titled The Marketplace).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (on extended loan, 1984-September 2019).


This work will be included in the forthcoming Camille Pissarro Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.
We are honored to present a selection of works from the Siegfried and Lola Kramarsky collection. The Kramarskys were dedicated philanthropists and owners of such masterpieces as Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait de Dr. Gachet, sold by Christie’s New York on 15 May 1990 in a landmark auction. The Kramarsky’s renowned art collection was amassed before World War II, and included a number of notable impressionist works. Many of the works, including the ones being offered presently, were on long-term loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
While entering this bustling, crowded Marché à la volaille (Poultry Market) that Camille Pissarro painted in Pontoise, 1882, only by carefully stepping to one side might the viewer avoid rubbing shoulders with the young woman carrying a basket of green apples, or not trip on the boot of the elderly paysan resting on the bench at lower left. Just as Pissarro stood with sketchbook in hand, the spectator surveys the scene, eyes alighting on a yellow headscarf here, the back of a pink bonnet there, or the tiny silhouette of a woman returning home in the distance at upper right.
Like actors in a stage spectacle, each person in this marketplace plays their part, in selling, buying, bartering, exchanging gossip and news, or otherwise socializing during this all-important, weekly communal event. The wonder in Pissarro’s treatment of the scene is that nothing appears contrived or scripted, that each figure convincingly occupies his or her own space, most naturally and casually, attentively engaged in some interaction with another, as they make their way through the crowd.
Unlike Claude Monet or Paul Cézanne, and other painters among the Impressionists, the rugged natural landscape alone, devoid of any human presence—as picturesque or steeped in other attractions as it may offer—held relatively little interest for Pissarro. To engage the full commitment and capabilities of the painter, and furthermore to connect and communicate most meaningfully with the viewer, the landscape—as Pissarro demonstrated in his pictures—must be inhabited and have been put to good use. The most socially-minded among his colleagues who practiced the new, plein air painting, Pissarro typically placed working men and women at the center of his pictorial world. Whether on the boulevards of Paris, or in the meadows and farm fields of the French countryside, the people in Pissarro’s paintings are countable—if only at times as a slender daub of paint—and each individual is integral to the dynamism of the elaborate panorama, the overall atmosphere that projects a vital, affirmative sense of place.
Since 1879, during his second stay in Pontoise, Pissarro had been giving increased prominence to people in his landscape painting. Christopher Lloyd has traced this development to the influence of Degas’s studio practice, in which painting and drawing the figure had been that artist’s primary endeavor, and the interest that both Degas and Pissarro pursued in the step-by-step procedures required in printmaking, as they contributed etchings and aquatints to the journal Le Jour et la Nuit (Camille Pissarro, New York, 1981, pp. 83-85). Pissarro no longer painted landscapes that included figures merely as distant, incidental accessories to the scene; instead he composed men and women in the landscape, and central to it—people viewed close-up, deliberately posed, individualized, and characterful in their own right.
Richard R. Brettell has noted that in taking up the rural market as a subject, Pissarro was following the example of his close friend, the painter Ludovic Piette, who had shown ten pictures of markets in the third impressionist group exhibition of 1877. Piette hosted Pissarro and his family on his farm in Montfoucault for a time during the severe economic recession of the late 1870s; the two men were passionate advocates of anarcho-communist ideals for social reform. Only four years older than Pissarro, Piette died in 1878 at the age of 52. Pissarro had not wanted to compete for valuable clients with his friend by also adopting the market subject—not until 1882 did he paint Le marché à la volaille, Pontoise, perhaps his earliest oil painting of a local market (C. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, no. 682; Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena), and then in part as a tribute to dear, departed Piette. The present gouache, likewise titled but not a similar study, was also probably completed around this time.
Piette favored painting wide, distant views of the country marketplace; Pissarro, on the other hand, preferred vertical figure formats in which the scene is viewed much closer-in, choices—as evident in the present gouache—that better suited the more immediate and lively experience of the subject he wished to project. The artist painted only five canvases of rural markets, none more than 32 in. (82 cm.) in height. He created many more works in gouache, détrempe, and pastel, around 25 in all, showing the market in Pontoise, and after moving to Éragny in 1884, the market in nearby Gisors.
The localized, self-regulating, equitable exchange of goods on a communal scale appealed to Pissarro’s life-long dedication to the fundamental principles of non-violent anarchist theory: social and economic egalitarianism, freedom from tyranny, the satisfaction derived from honest, unexploited labor, and a belief in the evolution of society toward a more peaceable and harmonious condition. “The ‘ideal’ market is agricultural,” Brettell observed in Pissarro’s point-of-view. “Producers sell their commodities at a fair price (with haggling) directly to consumers who need these commodities. In capitalism of this scale, no hoarding of capital is required and the exchange is direct, taking place without middlemen… Pissarro created a rural worker who both consumed and sold what she or he grew, raised, and gathered. This concept of plenty or superfluity is central to the anarchism of Peter Kropotkin, Élisée Reclus, and Jean Grave, the three writers who were most important for Pissarro” (Pissarro’s People, exh. cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2011, pp. 219-220).

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