CAMILLE PISSARRO (1830-1903) Paysage d'Hiver (recto); Basse-cour avec poules et canards (verso) 14 3/4 x 17 3/4 in (37.5 x 45.1 cm) (Painted in 1876-77)

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Lot 8
Paysage d'Hiver (recto); Basse-cour avec poules et canards (verso) 14 3/4 x 17 3/4 in (37.5 x 45.1 cm)

US$ 600,000 - 800,000
£ 500,000 - 660,000

Impressionist & Modern Art

14 May 2019, 17:00 EDT

New York

Paysage d'Hiver (recto); Basse-cour avec poules et canards (verso)
signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1876' (lower right recto); signed and dated 'C. Pissarro 1877' (lower left verso)
oil on canvas
14 3/4 x 17 3/4 in (37.5 x 45.1 cm)
Painted in 1876-77


  • Provenance
    Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 6, 1932, lot 113.
    Galerie René Keller, Paris.
    Galerie de l'Élysée, Paris.
    Galerie Nathan, Zurich (acquired circa 1960).
    Private collection, Germany (sold: Christie's, New York, November 15, 1989, lot 357).
    Acquired at the above sale.

    L.-R. Pissarro & L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro: Son art, son oeuvre, vol. I, San Francisco, 1989, nos. 338 & 427 (illustrated vol. II, pls. 67 & 86).
    J. Pissarro & C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. II, Paris, 2005, nos. 433 & 500 (illustrated pp. 316 & 353).

    Camille Pissarro returned to Pontoise with his family in August 1872, where they had resided from 1867 to 1869, after a fit of lackluster sales in the hopes that the locale would again provide him with fruitful inspiration for his works. His wish came true: upon his return, Pissarro painted more than 300 pictures of the town and the surrounding countryside. For the next ten years, Pissarro's life and work became closely linked to the town of Pontoise. According to Rick Brettell, the paintings he produced during his years in Pontoise "form what is probably the most sustained portrait of a place painted by any French landscape painter in the nineteenth century" (R. Brettell, Pissarro and Pontoise, The Painter in a Landscape, New Haven, 1990, p. 1). The present double-sided work is emblematic of the virtuosic technique Pissarro attained during this period.

    Trained under Camille Corot, Pissarro painted en plein air, a method that involved painting outside of the artist's studio to convey 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 other artists, including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Édouart Manet, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 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). Art critic J.K. Huysman lauded Pissarro after the seventh Impressionist exhibition of 1882, proclaiming: "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" (J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, p. 157). Representing the rural lifestyle as pleasant and fulfilling, and through a modernized lens, Pissarro provided a radical reinterpretation of the pastoral tradition.

    The years Pissarro spent in Pontoise are considered by critics to be the period during which he reached the apogee of his Impressionist style. "The artist retains a firmly controlled geometric structure as the framework for his compositions, but he employs a lighter touch in his brushwork and a brighter palette, both of which show the influence of Monet, whose technique of freely applying broken, separate patches of pure pigment Pissarro approached closely at this time. The paintings dating from the opening years of the 1870s may, like those of Monet and Renoir, with good reason be described as the most purely Impressionist in Pissarro's entire oeuvre" (Pissarro (exhibition catalogue), Hayward Gallery, London, 1980, p. 79). Pissarro stripped the Pontoise scenes of sentimental overtones to convey the inherent characteristics of the land and its inhabitants. The canvases he produced during this period are marked by his staccato application of a brighter palette for summer and spring scenes and subdued colors with smoother, slower brushstrokes for the cooler months. The current works, Paysage d'hiver and its verso Basse-cour avec poules et canards, are exemplary of these two refined styles.

    Within Pissarro's large oeuvre he only produced approximately 100 winter scenes, of which Paysage d'hiver stands as an intimate example. The scene is archetypal of Pissarro at his best: the silence and stillness of a just-fallen snow pervades the work as a couple gathers the branches fallen from the rustling trees. The quotidian rural scene is one of unity: the blues in the sky are found in a dappled reflection in the snow; variations of green are found in a myriad of spots, hinting at the burgeoning spring; and the thickness of the paint strokes is consistent throughout. The stoop of the woman and severe forward bend of the man, however, belie any notion of romanticizing rural laborers on a winter day; the hints of struggle preserve Pissarro's desire to capture the authenticity of experience.

    The verso, Basse-cour avec poules et canards, is a stunning example of Pissarro's careful observation of the landscape and patient translation of it onto canvas. His meticulous buildup of pastoral greens in the foreground against the smoother application of blue and white paints in the sky convey the verdant time of year. The white and brown pigments used for the chickens and geese, with their highlighting touches of red and orange, are found throughout the area in which they mingle, creating a visual harmony within the work. His skillful use of vivid color underscores the sense of immediacy to the scene. Théodore Duret, art critic and close friend of Edouard Manet, was one of the first people to recognize the ease with which Pissarro could see a conventional view and render it as if it were unique and remarkable. He told Pissarro: "I still believe that rustic nature, with its fields and animals, is what best suits your talent. You haven't Sisley's decorative feeling, nor Monet's fanciful eye, but you have what they have not, an intimate and profound feeling for nature and a power of brush, with the result that a beautiful picture by you is something absolutely definitive. If I had a piece of advice to give to you, I should say 'Don't think of Monet or of Sisley, don't pay attention to what they are doing, go on your own, your path of rural nature. You'll be going along a new road, as far and as high as any master!'" (quoted in C. Lloyd, Camille Pissarro, London, 1979, p. 70).

    Pissarro's spell in Pontoise was instrumental not only for his artistic development, but also for the creative growth of artists in his milieu. Attracted by the charm of the landscape and Pissarro himself, Pissarro's contemporaries—including Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Armand Guillaumin—paid frequent extended visits to work along side the Impressionist master. Cézanne was particularly influenced by Pissarro, and the two recognized in the other a rejection of the formal academic training and a desire for innovation. For more than twenty years, until 1885, Cézanne and Pissarro collaborated and experimented together as a true duo within the Impressionist group. As Ralph Shikes and Paula Harper postulate, "The relationship between [Pissarro and Cézanne] was crucial for Cézanne: it changed his direction as an artist and set up deep conflicts in him which, when finally resolved, led to a new synthesis. His mature work would not have developed as it did without Pissarro's influence" (R. Shikes & P. Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, New York, 1980, p. 115). Paysage d'hiver and Basse-cour avec poules et canards are triumphant works from one of Pissarro's most acclaimed periods executed with his characteristically delft and varied techniques.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this lot has been withdrawn.
CAMILLE PISSARRO (1830-1903) Paysage d'Hiver (recto); Basse-cour avec poules et canards (verso) 14 3/4 x 17 3/4 in (37.5 x 45.1 cm) (Painted in 1876-77)
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