Like great masters before him Camille Pissarro found a renewed and emboldened expressiveness to his art in later life. His early pioneering role amongst the Impressionists gave way to an affiliation with Pointillism. He dispensed with the intuitive attitude which had driven his art in his early years and embarked, for a short time, upon a journey focused on precision, system and science. Later works like, ‘Pommiers, effet d’automne’, combine the strictures of pointillism with his more instinctive, Impressionist manner.
Most probably painted at the artist’s country home in Eragny, Pissarro has drenched the present composition in cool autumn light. The instantaneousness of thought and sumptuous blending of colour that characterise his very best Impressionist work is in evidence. The emboldened palette pays homage to the focus on detailed observation which Pointillism had taught him, but the gentle orange flecks of paint amongst the trees, suggestive of the changing season, nestled neatly amongst a panoply of blues, greens and yellows all blended within each other draws focus to the energetic rapidity of his painting and his instinctive feel for colour and balance.
Eragny had been his home for over 15 years by the time this work was painted and the landscape provided no end of inspiration for him. The present ‘effet d’automne’ is a remarkable example of this very singular fascination with how light and landscape interact with unpredictable, and rarely replicable, outcomes. When, in 1900, the young Henri Matisse had asked Pissarro ‘What is an Impressionist?’, the artist replied: ‘An Impressionist is a painter who never makes the same painting twice’ (R. Shikes & P. Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, New York, 1980, p. 311).
The present work is one of 350 views of the countryside surrounding his home. This indefatigable pursuit of fleeting moments has resulted in an astonishing diversity of paintings. Other comparable examples of paintings of Eragny from this period can be found Chicago Art Institute of Chicago and Musee d’Orsay.
Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1934 E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam, 1948 H.J. Vermeulen, 1948 E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam, 1979 Galerie E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Haarlem Private Collection, The Netherlands (acquired from the above in 2006)
This work is accompanied by an Attestation of Inclusion from the Wildenstein Institute, and will be included in the forthcoming Pissarro Digital Catalogue Raisonné currently being prepared by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute