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  • Writer's pictureAnn Saul


70 Village Scene, Wome Chatting c. 1863-INT

Village Scene, Women Chatting, 1863, Private Collection PDRS 70

At first glance, the painting Village Scene, Women Chatting (1863) seems like an ordinary street with people and chickens scattered about the canvas. But Pissarro used the bright ray of sunlight to call attention to the structures, appearing as a series of color blocks. The large yellow house has no real door, only a slit, and one tiny window. Together with the wall, it forms a long rectangle that extends beyond the canvas edge. The building on the left has blocks of gray and red with large doors bisected by a diagonal line separating light and shadow. That shadow, together with the left side of the peaked roof, forms a long diagonal ending at the top of the small white block. The gray building with a pointed top should create depth. Instead, it almost overlaps the structure on the left.

These flattened forms, jammed together and set against an indeterminate background, fill the canvas, leaving little room for the sky. The foreground is dominated by a large, dark shadow, its intensity conveyed by the white and black chickens.

The women are mere brushstrokes; it is hard to tell if there are three or four. Pissarro took an ordinary scene and used its innate geometrical shapes to make an assertive statement about form and color.

This post is taken from the new book ABSTRACT PISSARRO, which investigates abstract elements in Pissarro’s work, dating from the earliest paintings.  The book will be available in April.  For more information, write:

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