Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pissarro’s views of the boulevard Montmartre

Camille Pissarro, views of the boulevard Montmartre
After painting in the French countryside for several years in the late 1800’s, French Impressionist Camille Pissarro took up residence at the Grande Hotel de Russie in the Montmartre section of Paris.

Durning his three month stay there from February through April, he produced a number of canvasses of views of the grand boulevards visible from his room, two of the boulevard Italiens, and fourteen of the boulevard Montmartre, of which he evidently had a better vantage point.

He portrayed the boulevard Montmartre in sun, mist and rain, in night and day, quiet and bustling with activity, including a parade.

This was in some ways similar to Monet’s multiple canvasses of subjects like the haystacks and, famously, the Rouen Cathedral — studies of the same subject in different light, seasons and atmospheric conditions. In other ways Pissarro’s paintings of the grand boulevards were more a study of the passage of life in the streets of Paris below him.

You can find most of the views of the Boulevards on this page on The Athenaeum (scroll down) and view the painting at top in detail on the site of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (click “Fullscreen” and zoom or download).

9 thoughts on “Pissarro’s views of the boulevard Montmartre

  1. Charley Parker Post author

    If you look through a large number of paintings by Monet, Pissarro, Sisley or many others who painted directly from life (the Athenaeum site is good for that), you’ll find that many of their subjects are not dramatic or exceptional in themselves, but in fact quite commonplace. They painted streets, houses, gardens, trees, fields, streams and people. It was how they saw and interpreted the ordinary that was extraordinary.

  2. Sarah Lynch

    These are wonderful! I have never seen them all lined up like this before. Truly inspiring. I agree that it is frustrating sometimes, trying to find inspiration in apparently mundane surroundings but we can only work with what we are given. Thank you.

  3. David J. Teter

    I used Google Maps to look up the site. That was a lot of fun. Of course it’s been over a hundred years but it could be parts are still there.
    Note: The hotel is not there (by name) so I looked up the section of Paris and found it by the two streets.
    It helps to have up on the screen the two boulevard Italiens, with one being a morning painting, then use Google north indicator to figure it out by the direction of shadows.

  4. David J. Teter

    Yes, that is the view (of boulevard Montmarte) I came up with.
    The trees make it tough to see the buildings of course.

    Based on the oblique view of the boulevard Italiens I think one of these buildings (formerly the Grande Hotel de Russie?) could be where they were painted from.

    http://goo.gl/maps/XIco

  5. David J. Teter

    Yes, one of the two I thought it may be. I think you’re right, he would want corner room for painting.

    Maybe one of your French readers could go there and find out… ?
    Shoot some photos from the upper level room, same views as paintings.

    This could be the seed for the next generation Google Art Project…
    “Google Art Detective”

    Tech Fun.

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