Camille Pissarro (1830–1903): Morning Sun in the Rue Saint-Honoré. Place du Théâtre Français
Oil on canvas | 65.5 x 54 cm | 1898
During the last ten years of his life Pissarro painted many city motifs. For example he rented hotel rooms around Paris and worked to paint the motifs seen from up in the building where he was staying. He painted the same streets and squares from different vantage points, at different times of the day, and in different weather conditions. The picture can be seen in the light of a then new tendency in the art of painting launched by the Impressionists: one repeated one’s motif in long series to explore their manifold possibilities.
Pissarro’s pictures of this type are both naturalistic and experimental. The drawing underlying the composition carefully reproduces views as they looked to the painter at a particular time. At the same time the Impressionistic way of painting showed an anonymous swarm of people, houses, carriages and trees, appearing as blobs. In the left of the picture the horizon is closed and the observer is made aware of the flatness of the picture. When one looks at the pictures this way, the individual blobs are very striking, bordering on the abstract.
Pissarro was the oldest of the group of Impressionist painters. He exhibited at all eight legendary Impressionist Exhibitions and came to play the role of a kind of artistic father figure to among others Gauguin. A central feature of his painting is the very consistent exploration of what could be called a classic Impressionism, only interrupted by a period at the end of the 1880s when he joined the Pointillists for a while.
Motifs: Landscapes and garden pictures, pictures of rural workers, city pictures and portraits.
Read more about Pissarro at the Musée d’Orsay’s website.