Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) La Gardeuse d'oies 7 1/4 x 5 1/2 in (19 x 13.8 cm) (Painted in 1890)

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Lot 8
Camille Pissarro
La Gardeuse d'oies 7 1/4 x 5 1/2 in (19 x 13.8 cm)

Sold for US$ 137,500 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

13 Nov 2018, 17:00 EST

New York

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
La Gardeuse d'oies
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro. 1890' (lower left)
oil on cradled panel
7 1/4 x 5 1/2 in (19 x 13.8 cm)
Painted in 1890


  • Provenance
    Simon Bauer, Paris (acquired circa 1946).
    Mr. & Mrs. Fred Bohen, Des Moines, Iowa (acquired by 1966).
    Thence by descent.

    Des Moines, Des Moines Art Center, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Fred O. Bohen, June 1966, no. 27 (titled Goose girl).
    Des Moines, Des Moines Art Center, Selections from the Collection of Mrs. Fred Bohen, November 13, 1977 - January 1, 1978, no. 12 (illustrated n.p. & titled Goose girl).

    J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Critical Catalogue of Paintings, vol. III, New York, 2005, no. 893 (illustrated p. 588).

    "Camille Pissarro has drunk light: with it he waters the sky, the earth, the grass and the peasant women sprawling in the green grass [it is what] gives his work its unquenchable shimmer" (F. Fágus, La Revue Blanche, 1899).

    The beauty of La Gardeuse d'oies is found in its feigned simplicity: in the immediate foreground a peasant woman calmly and protectively tends to the geese milling around her, with a luscious hill of Éragny serving as their locale. Upon closer inspection, however, one can decipher Pissarro's acute observations of this familiar scene he returned to throughout his oeuvre.

    Pissarro underscores the naturalness of this interaction with small cues to connect the woman to her surroundings. The slight downward arch of the woman's head in the foreground is mirrored by the sweeping branch behind and over her; the triumvirate arrangement of the geese at far left is echoed by the trees in the distance; and touches of yellow, orange, and green pigment found on the geese are reiterated on the trees both near and afar, creating a visual cohesion to the scene.

    Pissarro's depictions of rural laborers provide an intimate portrayal of the toils of daily life for the men and women of the pastoral heartland, far from the flux of urban life. While Pissarro refrained from romanticizing his subjects, he captured the authenticity of their experience through a filter of dazzling Impressionist techniques, La Gardeuse d'oies was painted in 1890 in Éragny, a small village on the banks of the Epte River where Pissarro spent over twenty years of his life. Well familiarized with his subjects, Pissarro's intimate depiction of this female figure evokes a sense of humanity. As the art critic J.K. Huysman states about Pissarro at the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition of 1882, "Pissarro has entirely detached himself from Millet's memory. He paints his country people without false grandeur, simply as he sees them. His delicious little girls in their red stockings, his old woman wearing a kerchief, his shepherdesses and laundresses, his peasant girls cutting hay or eating, are all true small masterpieces" (quoted in J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 157). Representing the rural lifestyle as pleasant and fulfilling, and through a modernized lens, Pissarro offers a radical reinterpretation of the pastoral tradition.

    Trained under Camille Corot, Pissarro painted en plein air, a method that involved painting outside of the artist's studio, in attempt to reveal an accurate representation of contemporary life. In 1873, in objection to the rigid academic standards of the French Salon, Pissarro helped establish Le Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs alongside fifteen artists, including Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Édouart Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas. As the eldest member of the group and the only artist to exhibit in all eight Impressionist exhibitions, Pissarro was deemed the "dean of Impressionist painters", as his presence was vital to the formation and continuation of the Impressionist group, (J. Rewald, Camille Pissarro, London, 1991, p. 9).

    The present work, a female figure tending to her geese, is depicted with a dazzling and speckled painterly surface for which Pissarro melded Impressionism with hints of Pointillism. An artist in constantly search of new techniques, Pissarro was a strong supporter of the Neo-Impressionist Masters. In 1885 Pissarro met Paul Signac and Georges Seurat, the founders of the two revolutionary techniques divisionism and pointillism. During the waning years of the 1880s, Pissarro began to experiment with Seurat's novel and controversial approach. By the end of 1890 Pissarro largely turned away from Pointillism, mostly due to its demand on his time. La Gardeuse d'oies is an emblematically stylistically transitionary work for the artist, with each individual brushstroke wider than those of Seurat, but with the staccato application Pissarro learned from his contemporary. La Gardeuse d'oies is a complex yet harmonious scene, with slightly fragmented brushstrokes that are soft yet vibrant, and with contrasting colors that create an energized light across the surface of the canvas. The present work represents Pissarro's meticulous rendering of the beauty of the French landscape, while simultaneously capturing the authenticity of the rural worker's experience.
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