The Banks of the Oise near Pontoise

Camille Pissarro (French, 1830-1903)

Currently on View in C206
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  • Pissarro’s landscape was painted at the dawn of the Impressionist era. Its silver light and vast expanse of sky reflect the movement’s emphasis on recording atmospheric conditions.
  • While the loose Impressionist brushwork creates a rich surface texture, the composition locks road, river, sky, and field into the firm structure that is a hallmark of his style.
  • Tucked into the scene are a barge, factory, smokestack, and railroad—clear signs of the growing industrialization that the Romantics and most Impressionists preferred to omit from their views of the French countryside.
Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Camille Pissarro painted this view of the French countryside at the dawn of the Impressionist era. Its gentle, silver luminosity and vast expanse of sky reflect the controversial new movement's commitment to recording the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere-what Pissarro called his sensations of nature. Like his fellow artists Claude Monet and Pierre Renoir, Pissarro worked outdoors to transcribe his perceptions more directly. He replaced the earth tones typical of his earlier paintings with the brighter colors that prevail in this landscape. Working rapidly to capture the passing moment, Pissarro brushed this canvas with broad, loose strokes, while maintaining the structure that characterizes his compositions. He links road, river, and riverbanks in parallel bands and anchors the horizon line with the verticals of the smokestack and trees to build a subtle framework for the scene.

Like many French artists, Pissarro fled to London during the Franco-Prussian War. He returned to France in 1871, settling the following year in the market town of Pontoise, on the Oise River in Normandy, about twenty-five miles northwest of Paris. A savvy, politically engaged artist, Pissarro was alert to the changes around him. In this composition from the period of his most purely Impressionist works, he included a newly built factory, a barge, and a puffing locomotive, clear signs of the industrial revolution that was transforming the face of rural France.

A fine picture by this artist is the act of an honest man. I cannot better define his talent.
-Author Emile Zola, 1868

(Reid and Lefevre, London, England) by 1939.{1} (Theodore Schempp, New York, New York) by 1940; purchased by John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, in November 1940 (40.252).

{1} See Ludovic Rodo Pissarro and Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro, Son Art -- Son Oeuvre, volume. 1, Paris, 1939, catalogue no. 222.

Object Information

Camille Pissarro (French, 1830-1903)
creation date
oil on canvas
15 x 21-3/4 in. (canvas)
20-5/8 x 27-1/2 x 2-3/4 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Signed and dated lower left: C.Pissarro | 1873
accession number
credit line
James E. Roberts Fund
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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