Camille Pissarro – Le Père Melon fendant du Bois

 

37970

CAMILLE PISSARRO (1830-1903)

Le Père Melon fendant du Bois

1880

gouache on linen

12 5/8 x 9 3/4 in. (32 x 24 3/4 cm.)

Provenance:

M. May, Paris
Sale: Drouot-Richelieu, Paris, December 14, 2001, lot 7
Sale: Sotheby’s, New York, Thursday, May 6, 2004 [Lot 00122], Impressionist & Modern Art Part One
Private Collection, California

Literature:

G. Goetschy, Exposition des artistes indépendants, Le Voltaire, Paris, April 5, 1882, (discussed p. 1-2)
L.R. Pissarro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, Son Art – Son Oeuvre, vol. I, Paris, 1939, no. 1336, catalogued p. 266 (vol. II, illustrated p. 262)
C.Moffett, The New Painting, Impressionism 1874-1886 (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1986 (p. 355)

Exhibition:

Paris, 35, Boulevard des Capucines, 6ème exposition de Peinture, 1881, no. 78 (titled Fendeur du bois)
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, L’oeuvre de C. Pissarro, 1904, no. 137
The New Painting, Impressionism 1874-1886 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. & The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. De Young Memorial Museum, 1986

Camille Pissarro’s paintings of rural workers are influenced by his Barbizon school predecessors like Millet and Corot, but capture the individual people more uniquely and are imbued with the innovation of Impressionism. It may be difficult for a 21st century eye to appreciate its modernity, but in 1880, Le Père Melon fendant du Bois is as resolute in its defiance of Salon hegemony as it is a modern painting based on Pissarro’s own sensations of color. This painting presents a harmonious ensemble of figures staged within an atmosphere of imbuement, full of color and light.

Works by Pissarro featuring male figures are rare, and this particular individual was a favorite of the artist. He gave him the nickname “le Père Melo” because of his melon-shaped hat and painted him several times during the 1880s. This piece has been in the same collection for over 15 years and has been protected from the light in a UV filtering frame. It has been extensively published and exhibited, most notably in the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition of 1881.

This subject matter is among his most widely admired and is represented in the most prestigious museum collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, among many others.

Pissarro-artist-quote-new-01

History

Camille Pissarro is surely among the most protean figures among artists — not in the rarified sense of Picasso’s genius for acrobatic feats of creative dexterity, but as the Impressionist with a broad range of interests, Pissarro was an inveterate experimenter least bound by rules or norms. He was also the quasi-ringmaster of a concerted effort to breach the ramparts of the Salon, challenge its conventionality and bourgeois attitudes and raze that monolithic institution as an anarchist might — stone by stone, brick by brick.  It may be difficult for a 21st century eye to appreciate its modernity, but in 1880 and within the context of the coming liberalism of the Third Republic, Le Père Melon fendant du Bois is as resolute in its defiance of Salon hegemony as it is a modern painting based on his own sensations of color and the presumed nature of spectral light as outlined by new scientific discoveries. It is among those works that assailed what critic Gustave Goetschy called, “the rugged virile simplicity of Millet” by brazenly emphasizing the immaterial effects of light and color in the interest of promoting freedom from covetous bourgeois attachment to materiality. Of Jewish bourgeois stock, Pissarro might seem ill-suited for the task of assuming the mantle of Jean-Francois Millet, recently passed in 1875. But as a man of great humility, utterly sincere in his faith in the goodness of others, Pissarro worked incessantly and 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.

More
  • Pissarro-pic1-WEB
    Pissarro in his studio examining works on paper from a folio, Éragny, circa 1890, Musée Camille Pissarro, Pontoise
  • Pissarro-pic3-WEB
    Camille Pissarro, Le Pere Mélon allumant sa pipe, circa 1879-1880
  • Pissarro-pic4-WEB
    Camille Pissarro, Il tagliaegna (The Woodcutter) 1879

Catalog and Video

View our video of Pablo Picasso’s Le Père Melon fendant du Bois

View our multimedia catalog featuring additional content on Le Père Melon fendant du Bois

MARKET INSIGHTS

  • Camille_PISSARRO_AMR_Graph-1
  • The record price for a Pissarro painting at auction was set in February 2014 when a cityscape from 1897 sold for $32M USD. More recently, an 1888 canvas depicting two peasants achieved the second-highest price for Pissarro at auction, selling for over $17M USD in February 2020, demonstrating the strength of the artist’s market.

  • The graph prepared by Art Market Research shows that since 1976, paintings by Pissarro have increased at a 5.3% annual rate of return.

  • As his Impressionist contemporaries reach staggering new sums every year, attention is directed to the relatively accessible works of Camille Pissarro. In 2019, Meules (1891) by Claude Monet sold for over $110M USD, setting a world record at auction for the artist. 

  • The market for Pissarro remains a fruitful area for appreciation as the record for Pissarro at auction is $32M USD. There is much more room for the Pissarro market to grow as his contemporaries’ supply of paintings dry up completely.  This impending market scarcity forces a re-evaluation of Pissarro, one of the historically monetarily undervalued Impressionist Masters. 

Top Results at Auction

Le boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps, 1897, oil on canvas, 25.6 x 31.9 in. Sold at auction February 2014 for $32,092,776
Le boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps, 1897, oil on canvas, 25.6 x 31.9 in. Sold at auction February 2014 for $32,092,776
Gelée blanche, jeune paysanne faisant du feu, 1888, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 36.4 in. Sold at auction February 2020 for $17,322,174
Gelée blanche, jeune paysanne faisant du feu, 1888, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 36.4 in. Sold at auction February 2020 for $17,322,174
La Rue Saint-Lazare, temps lumineux, 1893, oil on canvas, 28.8 x 23.7 in. Sold at auction November 2018 for $12,350,000
La Rue Saint-Lazare, temps lumineux, 1893, oil on canvas, 28.8 x 23.7 in. Sold at auction November 2018 for $12,350,000
Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps, 1892, oil on canvas, 28.9 x 36.2 in. Sold at auction November 2019 for $10,263,000
Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps, 1892, oil on canvas, 28.9 x 36.2 in. Sold at auction November 2019 for $10,263,000

Comparable Paintings Sold at Auction

La récolte des pommes de terre (1886), gouache over pencil on silk laid down on board, 11.2 x 16 in. Sold at auction May 2018 for $1,572,000
La récolte des pommes de terre (1886), gouache over pencil on silk laid down on board, 11.2 x 16 in. Sold at auction May 2018 for $1,572,000
  • Later painting than Le Pere Melon, similar medium of gouache but on board
  • Rockefeller provenance was helpful to achieving high result
  • Many figures pictured, but scene is a bit bland when compared to Le Pere Melon  which has more direct action in the foreground
Marché à la volaille à Gisors (1890), gouache and pastel on linen, 18.1 x 15.2 in. Sold at auction June 2014 for $1,126,892
Marché à la volaille à Gisors (1890), gouache and pastel on linen, 18.1 x 15.2 in. Sold at auction June 2014 for $1,126,892
  • Same medium but slightly larger than Le Pere Melon
  • Done 10 years later than Le Pere Melon and not during the important timeframe of the Paris Impressionist Salons between 1874-1886
  • Sale is from 2014, the market for Pissarro has increased at a rate of 5.3% since then
Travailleurs des champs, Pontoise (1880), gouache and pastel laid down on board, 10 x 12 in. Sold at auction May 2015 for $905,000
Travailleurs des champs, Pontoise (1880), gouache and pastel laid down on board, 10 x 12 in. Sold at auction May 2015 for $905,000
  • A very small painting (less than ½ size of Le Pere Melon) done in the same desirous year, 1880
  • Sold at a small auction house – perhaps at a more “name brand” house it would have achieved a higher result, still very strong for a work on board
  • Pissarro was known at this time for celebrating rural workers in his compositions, which continued an important change in art history of the celebration of everyday individuals, similar to Le Pere Melon.
La foire de Gisors (1889), gouache over pencil on silk laid down on canvas, 12 x 9 1/2 in. Sold at auction November 2013 for $893,000
La foire de Gisors (1889), gouache over pencil on silk laid down on canvas, 12 x 9 1/2 in. Sold at auction November 2013 for $893,000
  • Almost same size as Le Pere Melon, similar medium, but later date of 1889
  • Sold in 2013, the market for his work has improved since that time

Related Works in Museums

Two Women in a Garden, 1888, gouache on silk, 15 x 12 3/8 in., Metropolitan Museum
of Art, New York
Two Women in a Garden, 1888, gouache on silk, 15 x 12 3/8 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Route d'Ennery, 1974, oil on canvas 21 1/2 x 36 1/4 in., Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Route d’Ennery, 1974, oil on canvas 21 1/2 x 36 1/4 in., Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Washerwoman, Study, 1880, oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 23 1/4 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Washerwoman, Study, 1880, oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 23 1/4 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Young Peasant Girls Resting in the Fields near Pontoise, 1882, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 × 32 1/8 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Young Peasant Girls Resting in the Fields near Pontoise, 1882, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 × 32 1/8 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Image Gallery

Authentication

The definitive authority on the authenticity of paintings by Van Gogh, the Van Gogh Museum inspected this painting in January 2020 and provided this letter of authenticity. During that inspection, X-ray revealed a second painting under the surface – a portrait of a man.

View full report

KM_C454e-20200128185738

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