Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) - The Place du Havre, Paris (1893)
From the museum label:
"After a period of experimentation with the Neo-Impressionist style developed by Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro returned to the loose, multidirectional brushstrokes that he had used in his earlier Impressionist works. He also revisited an Impressionist subject that his colleagues had all but abandoned by the 1890's - the modern city. This bustling scene, alive with the noise and movement of traffic and pedestrians, was the view from his window at the Hotel Garnier in Paris, where he stayed for a few weeks early in 1893."
"An overview of the late phase of Camille Pissarro's career, with an examination of his paintings The Place du Havre, Paris, Haying Time, and Eragny, a Rainy Day in June.
"PISSARRO'S LATE STYLE Unlike his other Impressionist colleagues, Camille Pissarro was deeply affected by the theories and techniques of Georges Seurat. From their first meeting in 1885, Pissarro and Seurat worked closely together, and the older painter played a major role in the genesis of Seurat's masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Yet, it was the influence of Seurat on Pissarro that was infinitely the stronger, and the older painter's career during the second half of the 1880's must be read as a studied response to the art of Seurat. Pissarro abandoned the complex, variable brushwork of his Impressionist period to adopt the regularized dot or "divisionist" technique of the younger artist. Even his compositions took on the rigor and organization-al clarity so evident as a component of Seurat's cerebral art.
Yet, this late phase of Pissarro's career was not altogether an easy one for him. His production of paintings declined radically as he worked harder and longer to achieve the synthesis of observation, com-position, and surface technique that he sought. In fact, by 1890, he was all but exhausted by his experiments. His dealer was complaining that his paintings were no longer saleable. His wife and friends found his prolonged flirtation with the technique of this younger painter foolish. And Pissarro himself was filled with self-doubt and hesitation.
All of this changed in the first years of the 1890's, when Pissarro seemed to return to Impressionism. His brushwork regained the informality and richness of his earlier work, and his paintings once more began to spin one from the other with a seeming effortlessness and ease. Like Claude Monet, Pissarro started to work on canvases in series, choosing as his motifs views from his studio in Eragny or from various hotel rooms in Paris, Rouen, Le Havre, and Dieppe. He often worked on six or seven canvases simultaneously, discarding one temporarily when the light or his mood shifted. All of them were worked on in front of the motif, in the manner perfected by the Impressionists in the early 1870's. Yet, they were all finished in his studio, where he could study them in groups, struggling to achieve a collective harmony among various canvases.
An image of the urban world by Pissarro, painted five years earlier, is quite the opposite. As with Eragny, he painted the city in rain and shine, winter and summer, night and day. Yet, while the plants and peasants of his rural home respond utterly to season and weather, the structures and crowds of Pissarro's cityscapes seem oblivious to time or climate; the streets, plazas, and quais are ceaselessly dissonant and congested. The Place du Havre, Paris is alive with noise and movement as trains, carts, and pedestrians flow like worker bees in a busy hive. The facades of the buildings are dappled in light so that they seem to pulsate with energy and motion. Seldom has the city been treated so grandly and with such sustained attention as in Pissarro's late urban views, and the Art Institute's Place du Havre is not only among the earliest, but among the best of his great pictorial investigations of what his friend, the novelist Octave Mirbeau, called "the spectacle of urban life."