Sunday, July 17, 2016

If You Like Pissaro

1870 Road to Versailles at Louveciennes

I have always enjoyed studying the work of artists from the past, and I assume most people with an interest in art do the same, but I particularly like to follow the changes over time as an artist finds him or herself, responds to the movements of the time, becomes more confident, etc.  Pissaro has long been a favorite of mine, and now we have the chance to see much more of his work gathered in one place than I have seen before: Poul Webb, an artist in the UK, has a blog on which he gathers and presents the works of a variety of artists, posting day after day until he has exhausted his resources, and if you are interested in checking it out, his website is

His current series of posts focuses on Camille Pissaro,  and he intends 21 posts in total; the first two posts are up and ready to view.  One of my first impressions (no pun intended) is that Pissaro tended to lean on a couple of compositional crutches: he loved the road or lane or path leading into the picture, and nearly always he inserted figures to give a sense of scale, populating his work with people going about their everyday business.  He also seemed to like having the dominant mass descend from the upper left corner of the painting at an angle toward the lower right, and then leveling off somewhat below the horizontal center on the right.  I find this in painting after painting in his earlier work, and you can see it in several of those I have posted below.  Often he used both tricks in the same work.  But that minor observation aside, I enjoy seeing his growth over the years as he finds his voice.

1874 South Norwood, study

1871 All Saints Church, Upper Norwood

1856 Women Chatting by the Sea

The above painting, done when he was 26 and living in St. Thomas, reveals that he was skillful at an early age, and had already developed a part of what would become his signature style.  But he was hundreds if not thousands of paintings away from discovering the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism for which he would become famous.

1859 Houses by a Road

1864 The Banks of the Marne

Now I need to confess that the reason I chose to post the works of someone else is that I have done no work of my own over the past month.  I took on a project of a different sort that demands 12 hour days of me, six days a week, and I am exhausted and stressed and looking forward to a time in the near future when I can return to a more civilized life style that allows me a bit of leisure.

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