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Rachel Cohen

Pissarro (13)

Pissarro in March, in memory of Richard Brettell

Sunday, March 21, 2021

In 1897, Shrove Tuesday fell in March, and, in Paris, the annual Mardi Gras parade came down the Boulevard Montmartre on a blustery day. At a window overlooking the Boulevard, Camille Pissarro waited, brushes at the ready. The previous month, in February, he had begun an ambitious project, which would result in sixteen paintings of the Boulevard Montmartre, showing winter giving way to spring. Pissarro painted in the mornings, the afternoons, and the evenings; he painted in snow, rain, and the rare sunshine; he painted grey, and, when it came at last, he painted green. And he [...] more

Winter Gardening Pissarro

Friday, January 22, 2021

Yesterday it went up to 39 degrees in Chicago, which is warm right now in January, and it was a lovely day, sunny and quiet. Looking ahead to many cold days, I had seen this one on the horizon and planned to use it for a pleasant task in the garden, cutting the dry Northern sea oats. These are beautiful grasses with very lovely seeds in a pattern like a short bit of wheat. They are already in profusion in our garden, and the dry stalks need to be cut in January or the seeds are too [...] more

If you think of each act, Pissarro

Thursday, May 14, 2020

If you think of each act. I mean, every time a person comes into contact with someone else or a living being, or the life of the world. Every time she talks to the cashier as she pays for groceries at the store, or calls the pharmacy about a prescription, every time she does or doesn’t nod to a person she passes as she’s out walking, every time she puts out bird seed or chases away a rat who has come to eat the bird seed, or decides to bring in the bird feeder for [...] more

Three Pissarros Over Time

Monday, May 4, 2020

A Pissarro landscape has a special quality. As in a Monet, the vegetation has a lift, but this is even a bit more pronounced, so that there is a strong space around the leaves, which have a kind of brio. Detail from Camille Pissarro, A Cowherd at Valhermeil, Auvers-sur-Oise, 1874. As in a Sisley, there are glints, and the overall effect is quite bright, but the strokes are not quite as thin as Sisley’s. Camille Pissarro, Cotes des [...] more

Weekend Countryside Pissarro

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunshine today put me in mind of three Pisssarros at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Camille Pissarro, A Cowherd at Valhermeil, Auvers-sur-Oise, 1874. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photos Rachel Cohen. And, second: Camille Pissarro, Jallais Hill, 1867. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photos Rachel Cohen. Third: Camille Pissarro, Cotes des Grouettes, near Pontoise, probably 1878. [...] more

Pissarro in Snow

Out of Season

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Snow this morning. This painting – Rabbit Warren at Pontoise, Snow by Camille Pissarro, 1879 – is a regular point of reference for me, one I visit fairly often at the Art Institute. I had thought that writing of it would wait until next year. (Will we be inside again? There are questions and predictions about future waves of the disease. Hard to grasp what the year will be.) Most winters I write a little about snow and painting because snow is painting [...] more
pissarro detail

Pissarro and Public Spaces

Frederick Project: Commons

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Yesterday in Chicago the lake front and many of the public parks closed. A day or two earlier, there had been a beautiful warm day, and too many people went out to the places we always go to. Jackson Park was closed, too, where the children and I have been going to keep track of spring, and to run around the perimeter of what they call ‘the circle garden.’ This morning, I am thinking about the relationship between museums and public parks, places whose colors we see, year in and year out, changing and constant. [...] more

Second in a Series

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Bath is a print, or a series of prints, made by Mary Cassatt in 1891 – at the height of her powers and at a moment when her interest in Japanese prints opened a wonderful set of visual ideas in her mind. Her powers were considerable.  When Pissarro visited her studio in April of that year he wrote of her work to his son Lucien (the two Pissarros had been experimenting with prints themselves.) You remember the effects you strove for at Eragny?  Well, Miss Cassatt has realized just such effects, and admirably: the [...] more

Toward Spring

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In The Times this morning, an item suggesting that blossoming in the New York City parks will be unusually overlapping this season.  I remember this from certain springs.  In general it would be so carefully painted in Central Park – first the yellow forsythia, then delicate whites and rose of cherry and dogwood, then the heavier magnolias.  But that occasionally these would run together.  The effects could be beautiful, but sometimes I remember thinking that the palettes jarred, and that I preferred the slow procession, each tree gravely taking its turn to step forward.Here, though, we long for [...] more

Snow

Saturday, February 15, 2014

* At this time last year, in the days when my father was dying, it snowed and snowed.   From the hospital windows, it had its beauty.  The hallway near the elevators had windows that looked down on to a sort of large courtyard, not rustic, but still made precise by the snow. People crossed and you would see dark footprints.  These would then be covered.  The footprints and their being covered, traces of particular steps and shoes, then again white -- the tiny brevity of each passing figure, of the length of time in which [...] more

A First Glimpse of Sargent and Monet

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In a book on Monet’s series paintings of London (between 1900 and 1904 he made almost a hundred paintings of three subjects: the Waterloo Bridge, the Charing Cross Bridge, the Houses of Parliament) I read this cursory paragraph:  The successful portrait painter Sargent, who urged Monet to show in London in the early 1890s, may have encouraged the artist’s professional interest in London.  He was very much in evidence when Monet was in London and assisted him in making arrangements, dined with him, and provided social contacts – some of whom may have been intended as potential patrons. [1] [...] more

Passages: Pissarro

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Camille Pissarro, theorist and mentor of the Impressionist movement, was known for giving sound advice.  Here are some of his thoughts as later recollected by the painter Louis Le Bail (in Rewald, The History of Impressionism ).  They’re in the order that Le Bail wrote them down in, but I’ve broken them into territories, and set them to some iphone details I took of the last Pissarro I looked at, Pontoise, the Road to Gisors in Winter , 1873, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:Look for the kind of nature that suits your temperament.   The motif [...] more

On Photography II

Saturday, October 5, 2013

[This is the second installment of visual notes on this Pissarro, documented by iphone.] Stretch of cultivated field down to earth: Shape of path as it curves back: Shape of hill crest, cypressed, below sky: Step back to look at whole again: Dark paint, just dashed on, group of trees: Really dark, low dark hole, yellow grass across lower right corner: Look again at dark paint just dashed on of upper tree: Once having looked at these two dark areas, upper tree, lower hole, the whole right side of the picture has beautiful [...] more