Musée d'Orsay: Camille Pissarro The Seine and the Louvre

Camille Pissarro
The Seine and the Louvre

The Seine and the Louvre
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
The Seine and the Louvre
Oil on canvas
H. 46; W. 55 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

La Seine et le Louvre [The Seine and the Louvre]

After 1893, Camille Pissarro turned away almost entirely from the countryside motifs that had formed the main part of his work. From then on, he devoted himself to depicting urban sites: Paris, Rouen, Le Havre and Dieppe.
The painter preferred to vary his subjects, and unlike Monet, did not study the atmospheric variations of the same motif. When he started his series on Paris in 1893, he first selected crowd scenes: around the Gare Saint-Lazare, the boulevards, and the Tuilerie gardens. Then, turning to quieter locations, he produced a series of paintings of the Seine and of the Louvre, including this one. Sky and water took on a new importance in Pissarro's art during the last ten years of his life, and he seemed to take more interest than before in observing the light.

In this canvas, produced in the same year he died, the palette very subtly conveys the atmosphere of a winter's day in a soft light. Observed from the second floor of a house in the Place Dauphine, the scene includes the tip of the Square du Vert-Galant in the foreground, with the Pont des Arts bridge spanning the Seine, and a view of the Louvre. The composition is tightly constructed with strict lines formed by the Louvre, the Pont des Arts and the outlines of the square. However, the light mist enveloping the landscape softens any rigidity that might have ensued from this construction. Pissarro produced about thirty paintings between 1900 and 1903 from this same window.

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