If it had been up to his wife Julie, the next series of cityscapes Camille Pissarro painted in 1899 would have taken place from the balcony of the apartment she found on the Quai de Béthune. Camille rejected the location. It had no interesting motifs and the artist had something else in mind. In 1897, he had rented a room at the Grand Hôtel du Louvre located on the axis of avenue de l’Opéra and had painted the bustling avenue as it fanned out into the large, well-known roundabout. Each picture had become an exercise and presented the challenges of balancing a horizontal expanse against the dynamic, plunging perspective he chose to accentuate. His dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, thought the paintings the best cityscapes of his career. But Pissarro believed there were other opportunities and challenges. As he reported in December 1898: “We have engaged an apartment on rue de Rivoli, facing the Tuileries, with a superb view of the Park, the Louvre to the left, in the background the houses on the quays behind the trees, to the right the Dôme des Invalides, the steeples of Ste. Clotilde behind the mass of chestnut trees. It is very beautiful. I shall paint a fine series.” (Camille Pissarro to his son, Lucien, Eragny, December 4, 1898)
Widely admired as a man of great humility and utterly sincere in his faith in the goodness of others, Pissarro has been justifiably celebrated as the preeminent Impressionist painter of peasant and rural life. He lived a simple life of honest toil so that the requisite sympathy and understanding of rural living was a deep-seated element of his own experience. Yet between 1896 and 1903 (the last year of his life) he chose to live a bifurcated seasonal schedule of summers and autumns at his beloved Éragny home and intermittently in Paris, Rouen, Le Havre, and Dieppe where he produced more cityscapes than any major impressionist — a remarkable 300 urban scene canvases. Here on the cusp of his next great series, the snowy-bearded sixty-eight-year-old with the deeply furrowed features and beetling eyebrows had finally acquired sufficient financial security that he could afford a permanent residence for he and his family in a beautifully appointed apartment in Paris. Moving from one window to the next and working incessantly, he was able to report by March that “I have fourteen canvases on the easel of which twelve are finished. The motifs of the Carrousel and the Jardin des Tuileries please everybody, but so far I have had nothing but the effects of fog.” (Camille Pissarro to his son, Lucien, March 15, 1899)
(left): Rue de Rivoli et Jardin des Tuileries, Exposition Universal, 1900. (right): Camille Pissarro, “Cocotte Reading (portrait of Jeanne Pissarro)”, 1899. Daughter Jeanne seated at the apartment at 204 rue de Rivoli. (Note the Tuileries canvas behind her.)
(left): Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “Le Jardin des Tuileries”, 1875. (right): Claude Monet, “Jardin des Tuileries”, 1875
Eventually, Pissarro would paint twenty-eight studies of this urban landscape. Jardin des Tuileries, après-midi, soleil is surely among the most elegant of the series, as much a paean to landscape architect Le Nôrte and the architectonic strength of his grand design as an opportunity to capture a deep and expansive view bathed in the delicate and defused light of a late afternoon spring day in 1900. With its precise symmetry and deeply set stage, it is a painting that stands against the grain of the times when avant-garde painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec or the Nabis — Vuillard, and Bonnard, for example — dominated the conversation with their more restrictive world of cafes, clubs, boudoirs, and sundry intimacies. As if on cue, Pissarro could always prove his abilities as a figurative painter. His richly patterned study of his youngest daughter Jeanne (affectionately named ‘Cocotte’) reading as she sits on the patterned settee, a coyly added a Jardin des Tuileries canvas behind her.
Today, 204 rue de Rivoli is located between rue du 29 Juillet and rue Saint-Roch, squared up as it often is, to the Ferris wheel on Place de la Concorde located across the boulevard at entrance to the park. There is history here, of course. Leon Tolstoy lived next door at 206 rue de Rivoli during the 1850s and Renoir and Monet painted this view oriented as is Jardin des Tuileries, après-midi, soleil toward the spires of basilica Sainte-Clotilde across the Seine. Renoir painted a solo canvas in 1875, and Monet five the following year; both standing at the window or along the balcony of their friend and art dealer Victor Choquet. He lived at 198 rue de Rivoli.
Pissarro’s Jardin des Tuileries, après-midi, soleil impresses as more elegant, sophisticated study than those earlier studies by Renoir and Monet. It is a tour de force of color and chroma restraint. That is not surprising. It was painted nearly a quarter of a century later, a sophisticated meld of cool tones brought to vibratory effect by glint of warmer tones further enhanced by aligning tamped down blues and mauve values to create a halo-like effect. Even now, a century and a score later we accept that Pissarro captured those largely evanescent, spectral effects convincingly and that Jardin des Tuileries, après-midi, soleil is a revelation that displays all the vitality and dexterous mastery of the best Impressionist paintings of the period.Inquire
Paintings Sold at Auction
Paintings in Museum Collections
ProvenanceErnst Poensgen, Dusseldorf, acquired in Paris, before 1914
Adolf Wuster, Munich, by 1954
Private Collection, Switzerland
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, jointly purchased with Galerie Nathan, Zurich, July 17, 1956
Private Collection, New Jersey, acquired August 31, 1959
Private Collection, New Hampshire
ExhibitionEssen, Villa Hugel, Werk der Franzosischen Malerei und Graphik des 19. Jahrhunderts, 1954, no. 76
New Orleans, Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, Odyssey of an Art Collector: Unity in Diversity, Five Thousand Years of A...More...rt, 1966-76, no. 186, illus.
Orleans, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Peintures francaises du Museum of Art de La Nouvelle-Orleans, 1984, no. 25
Memphis, Tennessee, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, French Paintings of Three Centuries from the New Orleans Museum of Art, 1992-93, no. 30, illus. In color; also traveled to Miami, Center for the Fine Arts; Wilmington, Delaware Art Museum; Grosse Point Shores, Michigan, Edsel and Eleanor Ford House; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Art Museum; Seattle, Seattle Art Museum
Koriyama, Japan, Koriyama City Museum of Art, French Paintings of Four Centuries from the New Orleans Museum of Art, 1993, no. 29; also traveled to Yokohama, Sogo Museum of Art; Nara, Nara Sogo Museum of Art; Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Camille Pissarro and His Descendants, 2000-01, no. 65, illus. In color (titled Garden of the Tuileries in Winter)
Stanford, California Iris and B. Gerald Canton Center of Visual Arts at Standford University, The Changing Garden: Four Centuries of European and American Art, 2003, no. 6; also traveled to Memphis, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens; Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Museum of Art
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza & Barcelona, Caixa Forum, Pissarro, 2013-14
LiteratureJoachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. III, Paris, 2005, no. 1314, illus. in color p. 812