Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Bather in the Woods

Artist:
Camille Pissarro (French, Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas 1830–1903 Paris)
Date:
1895
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
23 3/4 x 28 3/4 in. (60.3 x 73 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.126
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 820
In summer 1893 Pissarro wrote his son Lucien that he was planning a series of canvases of nude peasant women bathing, even though he foresaw difficulties in engaging models in rural Éragny. None were completed until 1894, and Pissarro continued to paint variations on the theme through 1896. This picture falls midway in the project. Pissarro’s approach reflects the continuing influence of divisionist technique, but more naturalistic tendencies emerge in his attempts to capture the delicate fall of light over the grassy bank and the woman's back. Her pose recurs in two studies of a clothed model painted the same year.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Pissarro.1895
[Alphonse Portier, Paris, 1895; sold for the artist on October 20, 1895, for Fr 1,800 to Hayashi]; Tadamasa Hayashi, Tokyo and Paris (1895–d. 1906; his estate sale, American Art Galleries, New York, January 8–9, 1913, no. 146, as "Baigneuse seule," for $4,200 to Durand-Ruel for Havemeyer); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1913–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 161)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 90 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 177].

New York. Wildenstein. "Nude in Painting," November 1–December 1, 1956, no. 28.

Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (p. 47).

Iowa City. University of Iowa Gallery of Art. "Impressionism and Its Roots," November 8–December 6, 1964, no. 40.

New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "C. Pissarro," March 25–May 1, 1965, no. 59.

Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 100.

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 100.

Naples. Museo di Capodimonte. "Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani," December 3, 1986–February 1, 1987, no. 37.

Milan. Pinacoteca di Brera. "Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani," March 4–May 10, 1987, no. 37.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A432.

Camille Pissarro. Letters to Lucien Pissarro. March 14, October 16, 20, 1895 [published in Janine Bailly-Herzberg, ed., "Correspondance de Camille Pissarro: Tome 4/ 1895–1898," Paris, 1989, pp. 44–45, 101–5, nos. 1118, 1161, 1162], mentions that Portier sold it to Hayashi for Fr 1,800.

Camille Pissarro. Letter to Georges Pissarro. October 21, 1895 [published in Janine Bailly-Herzberg, ed., "Correspondance de Camille Pissarro: Tome 4/ 1895–1898," Paris, 1989, p. 105, no. 1163], remarks that Portier sold it for half of what Pissarro had hoped for.

H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 161.

Ludovic Rodo Pissarro and Lionello Venturi. Camille Pissarro, son art—son œuvre. reprint ed. 1989. Paris, 1939, vol. 1, p. 206, no. 904; vol. 2, pl. 183, no. 904.

John Rewald. Camille Pissarro, 1830–1903. New York, 1954, unpaginated, colorpls. 28–29 (overall and detail).

Five Centuries of European Painting. Exh. cat., Arkansas Arts Center. Little Rock, 1963, p. 47, ill.

Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 19–20, ill.

Christopher Lloyd. "Camille Pissarro and Hans Holbein the Younger." Burlington Magazine 117 (November 1975), p. 725, fig. 43.

Richard R. Brettell and Christopher Lloyd. A Catalogue of the Drawings by Camille Pissarro in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Oxford, 1980, p. 186, under no. 259.

William R. Johnston. The Nineteenth Century Paintings in the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore, 1982, p. 75.

Richard R. Brettell. An Impressionist Legacy: The Collection of the Sara Lee Corporation. New York, 1986, p. 48, claims that "Young Woman Bathing Her Feet" (P&V no. 903) in the Sara Lee Collection was conceived by Pissarro as a pendant, in an effort to rework Goya's nude and clothed majas (Museo del Prado, Madrid).

John House. "Camille Pissarro's Idea of Unity." Studies on Camille Pissarro. Ed. Christopher Lloyd. London, 1986, pp. 25, 33 n. 16.

Richard Thomson. Camille Pissarro: Impressionism, Landscape and Rural Labour. Exh. cat., City Museum and Art Gallery. London, 1990, pp. 89–90, colorpl. 109.

Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts in Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts. Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings. Milan, 2005, vol. 1, pp. 376, 391, 395–96, 401, 410, 416, 419; vol. 3, pp. 678–79, 955, 958, no. 1062, ill. (color).



In 1893 Pissarro wrote to his son Lucien that he was preparing several compositions of peasant girls bathing, but that he foresaw difficulties in engaging models at Eragny. The series of bathing nudes was completed between 1894 and 1896. In 1894, a year before painting the MMA picture (Pissarro and Venturi 904), Pissarro executed a version of a dressed peasant girl washing her feet in a brook (Pissarro and Venturi 901). In 1895 he painted two versions of clothed girls, one of a girl bathing in a brook, as well as a dressed girl in his studio, pulling up her sock (Pissarro and Venturi 903 and 935). Both of the earlier compositions helped Pissarro prepare for this painting, in which the pose is identical.

Pissarro had abandoned the divisionist technique in 1890, but this work still shows traces of it.
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