June morning in Pontoise

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The painting was exhibited in 1874 at the first exhibition of the Impressionist legend in the studio of photographer and painter Nadal. Critics competed with one another for mocking laughter. Pissarro’s simple paintings were considered an insult at the time: his subjects did not maintain any “classical” stance; objectivity was exchanged for subjective feelings of summer. Pissarro neither did accurate research nor painted in the studio according to conventional rules. It was created in the open air, laid out quickly, and painted quickly. Pissarro ignored chromatic and linear perspective. Instead, he dissolves lines into light, transforms reality into harmoniously dispersed brushstrokes of color, and develops color spaces. Thus, critics can easily claim that Pissarro’s paintings have neither tops nor bottoms, neither fronts nor backs. Today, we admit it with a smile.

A country road cuts through fields of grain that are about to ripen. On the left half, the poppies add a touch of life and retreat to the depths along the path, and the fields on the other side are parallel to the picture. The rhythmic intervals in between strongly emphasize the collision of near and far spatial layers. A narrow field of view was important to Pissarro. He enlivened the hill with a poplar tree, a group of farmers, a reservoir, houses and groves. Faded tones and slightly wider, smoother brushstrokes depict the hills shrouded in mist and distinguish them from the detailed foreground and background. The sky takes up half of the picture. The clouds move deeper, so the viewer can feel—like Pissarro—in the frame.

The balance of the composition and the overall simplicity give the impression of calm and harmony. There were also Impressionist friends among the aggrieved public at the time, and they were sensitive about it. In 1874, the art critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary bravely commented on Pissarro’s paintings: “In his June Morning, one must I commend him with reservations for the power of arranging the parts of the landscape, and the ingenious, harmonious balance of the whole.” Pissarro wanted to translate the emotional value of the atmosphere into painting. His ambition was to capture the impression of the landscape on an early summer day. This sunny landscape on the outskirts of Paris becomes the epitome of warmth itself.

Thanks to the National Gallery of Karlsruhe , for allowing us to present the works today.

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78 x 115 cm


Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe

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