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  • Writer's pictureAnn Saul


Cows Watering in the Pond at Montfoucault 1875

Birmingham (UK) Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham  PDR 428

Montfoucault was Pissarro’s refuge, his safe haven.  The large country estate in the Mayenne, home of Pissarro’s artist friend Ludovic Piette, was the place where Pissarro could take his family in times of trouble and need.  He made five visits there painting the secluded countryside in springtime, fall and winter.

This autumn painting features a small herd of cows drinking at the edge of the pond, tended by a peasant woman. The bucolic scene is framed by the large forked tree on the left and another big tree on the right. We can almost feel the warmth of the autumn sun that reflects on the backs of the three red cows. The space is shared by a flock of geese bathing in the pond’s center. This version was painted on site, but it became the model for another larger painting completed later the same year in Pissarro’s studio.

Below is a photograph of Pissarro’s pond taken on a sunny spring day. Beside it is a large plaque, one of twelve erected at Montfoucault by the nearby town of Lassay les Chateaux. You can walk around the estate and see similar plaques showing the sites of paintings by Piette and Pissarro, including Piette’s home and nearby fields and pastures. (The tourist office in Lassay les Chateaux will give you directions to Montfoucault.)

 Pond at Montfoucault [Photo by Paul Climance)

While you are in Lassay les Chateaux, take time to see the largest historic chateau, originally built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 14th century after destruction during the Hundred Years War. It still has its eight massive towers, ramparts, barbican and a working drawbridge. [] [] The photos are by Paul Climance, local historian in Lassay-les-Chateaux.

 Medieval chateau at Lassay-les-Chateaux [Photo by Paul Climance]

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