Chemin des Creux, Louveciennes, Snow, 1872, PDR 219
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
This incredibly beautiful Pissarro landscape from Louveciennes was one of the major highlights of PISSARRO, the exhibition at Museum Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid. This reproduction, taken from the Museum Folkwang’s website does not do it justice. The weak winter sunlight provides little warmth on the gleaming white snow, with its shades of blue and pink. The deep shadows are delicate shadings of blues, grays, mauves. The old tree’s rotten center is filled with snow and your eye gets lost in the graceful tangle of small branches.
The entire exhibition, which began with Pissarro’s last self-portrait, was as carefully composed as one of his paintings–arranged chronologically, many times in pairs that enhanced the experience of each work. While the selection of 79 paintings included many well-known paintings, there were also some delightful surprises.
The museum’s own Route de Versailles was carefully paired with a similar painting from the High Museum in Atlanta. Two of Pissarro’s most beautiful paintings from London 1871 were together, the field near Sydenham Hill and Dulwich College. Two landscapes of l’Hermitage at Pontoise were similar locations but displayed strikingly different techniques. Another exceptionally wide painting of 1877 from Ottawa, Canada, displayed a composition that is sparse and modern-looking for its time.
A pair of very wide landscapes, two very different versions of the crooked apple tree in Pissarro’s orchard, similar views of the garden wall were among the paintings from Eragny.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the two paintings from Pitti Palace in Florence that I wrote about a few months ago. What a treat to see them again, this time close up and at eye level.
The city views featured two versions of Boulevard Montmartre paintings, the museum’s own Rue Saint-Honore paired with the same motif from Copenhagen. An exquisite selection of Rouen paintings featured the bridges, the Seine, the boats and the changeable weather.
Mind you, these galleries were not hushed and quiet, and people did not parade around the room in a slow shuffle like they usually do. There was an excited buzz in the air as people looked first at one and then the other and then back again. Some visitors were going back into previous rooms to compare earlier and later works, or landscapes with cityscapes. Viewers were spending time in front of paintings, looking closely, walking up to see brushstrokes and back to embrace the unity.
Pissarro must be smiling.
PISSARRO’S PLACES is on sale in the bookstore of the PISSARRO exhibition in Madrid. I had the honor of signing books for several people who bought them on the day I was there. What a pleasure to meet each of them and share thoughts about Pissarro.
Readers of this blog can obtain a copy of PISSARRO’S PLACES at Amazon.com or the Barnes & Noble website. A special price for friends of this blog is available at the book’s website: http://www.pissarrosplaces.com.