Sense the Quiet Pulse of the Earth
The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise, 1877 National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
This painting is one of those in the PISSARRO exhibition in Madrid (previous post)—a serene landscape painted near Pontoise. Just right of center, a woman rides sidesaddle on a horse, leading us into the picture. The road, just a dirt lane through the fields, intersects with a large road bordered by trees. Between the smaller trees, other haystacks are visible in the distance. On the large road at the left, another woman walks out of the painting.
This simple landscape, divided almost equally between land and sky, is actually quite complicated. The horizon line is slightly curved like the edge of the earth. With nothing to stop our gaze, it stretches on both sides into infinity. The small curved lane where the woman is riding is roughly perpendicular to the large road. To the left of the horse is a small green triangle that makes a line with a row of green cabbages on the other side, creating a curvy X. Not to be outdone, the sky is filled with “buttermilk” clouds interspersed with big puffs that hurry from left to right.
At first glance, the colors seem simple too—red, yellow, green, blue and white. But the fields on the right reveal a myriad of greens—some more yellow, others more blue—side by side. The fields on the left are plain except for dashes of red—perhaps a newly plowed field.
Filled with movement and life, this painting requires a very large canvas. It is, in fact, approximately 59 inches wide and 36 inches high. Though the scene is placid, we sense the quiet pulse of the earth.
You can see it in Madrid at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszo for a few more weeks. In October, the PISSARRO exhibition will move to CaixaForum in Barcelona.
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PISSARRO’S PLACES, the book that explores all the sites painted by Pissarro, is now on sale at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszo. It will also be on sale in Barcelona at the CaixaForum in October.
See PISSARRO’S PLACES, the presentation
Philadelphia – Osher Lifetime Learning Institute on October 18
Chicago – Newberry International Research Library on October 23
To schedule a PISSARRO’S PLACES presentation for your organization, contact: Ann Saul at firstname.lastname@example.org