• Susan Ward

Art Escape: Pissaro

Wander into these landscape paintings by Camille Pissaro. Look with new eyes and build your mental wellness!

French Impressionist landscape painting
"A Cowherd" by Camille Pissaro

"A Cowherd at Valhermeil, Auvers-sur-Oise" was painted in 1874, at the beginning of the Impressionist movement. Pissaro, who was born on St. Thomas, is using light colors and more noticeable, incomplete brushstrokes. And you can feel the focus that the Impressionists were putting on light and atmosphere and the out of doors. Pissaro painted nearly 20 scenes from this town where he lived, outside of Paris, often, like this one, showing local villagers walking the local paths. ("A Cowherd at Valhermeil, Auvers-sur-Oise,"

1874, Camille Pissarro, French, oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, public access.)

Nineteenth century French landscape
Jalais Hill by Camille Pisarro

Now compare this earlier painting by Pissaro, "Jalais Hill, Pontoise" from 1867. A striking painting but very different from "A Cowherd," darker, more crisp, more traditional. Émile Zola, art critic at the time said, "From ordinary reality the painter's temperament has drawn a rare poem of life and strength." When you look at the two landscapes, both from northwest of Paris, you can see the significant shift that Impressionism had on paintings of the late nineteen century. Straight lines became softer, colors became lighter, brushstrokes more noticeable. (Jalais Hill, Pontoise, 1867, Camille Pissarro, French, oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, public access.)

Take a breath, and wander into these landscapes...

Imagine yourself walking into each of these landscapes... What catches your eye first? Which direction would you walk? What would the ground be like under your feet? Would you keep walking or would you stop and sit somewhere? What would you be hearing? What would the temperature be? What scents would be in the air? Take a few more slow deep breaths... By taking a mini art escape you're calming your nervous system and building emotional resilience.

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