This view shows one of the roads connecting the hamlet of Valhermeil in Auvers with Pontoise, the village northwest of Paris where Pissarro lived for many years. Between 1873 and 1882, he painted some twenty works in this area, several featuring the same red-roofed house. The subject, villagers walking on paths through the French countryside, was one of the artist’s favorites, reflecting his interest in the pulse of daily rural life. Made in 1874, the year of the first Impressionist exhibition, this picture demonstrates Pissarro’s adaptation of the looser touch, broken brushstrokes, and lighter palette of younger colleagues like Monet.
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Title:A Cowherd at Valhermeil, Auvers-sur-Oise
Artist:Camille Pissarro (French, Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas 1830–1903 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:21 5/8 x 36 1/4 in. (54.9 x 92.1 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Edna H. Sachs, 1956
The Painting: In general, Pissarro worked close to home. This wide horizontal landscape was painted a few years after the end of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, when the artist had resettled his family in a house on the main road in the village of L’Hermitage on the outskirts of Pontoise, to which he had first moved in 1866. Auvers-sur-Oise is nearby and had attracted the interest of artists of the preceding generation, including Corot and Daubigny, who built a house there; it would later provide subjects for Paul Cézanne as well as Vincent van Gogh. During the 1870s and the early 1880s, Pissarro, too, painted occasionally in Auvers-sur-Oise, to the northeast; he reached it by passing through the village of Valhermeil, on a road parallel with the hill seen here. Pissarro had been influenced by his younger colleagues, notably Monet, and his style had changed noticeably by 1874. He had adopted a lighter palette as well as the looser, smaller, more varied brush strokes that characterize early Impressionism. The present canvas is unusually blond and pale green in overall tone. The house with the coral-red roof would appear in many of the artist’s works: apparently, he was drawn to its simple white box-like shape (Durand-Ruel Snollaerts 2005). The peaked roof stands out, as do the blue blouse and apron of the woman walking along the road with her cow, and the red kerchief of the man driving a horse and wagon. By 1874 Pissarro had begun to develop a compelling interest in the peasants who labored on the land. Here, he showed them engaged in their traditional daily tasks, part of the fabric of rural life, as if woven into their immediate natural environment. Although the area depicted was heavily developed in the twentieth century, it has been possible in recent years to pinpoint exact locations such as this.
Related Works: A painting of the same year with a comparably bright palette is Meadows of Valhermeil near Pontoise (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, 2719). It is also the same size—wide in proportion to its height—and shows a related subject, including two peasants and meadows with a grain stack beside land recently plowed. Landscape near Pontoise, the Auvers Road (private collection, on loan to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in 2005) of 1881 presents a diagonal view of the same road; one of a group of canvases painted six or seven years later, its surface is more densely worked and darker.
Provenance:Cowherd at Valhermeil belonged to the distinguished operatic baritone and collector of Impressionist pictures Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830–1914), who owned the picture when he died in 1914. It may have been number 202 in the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876 (see Berson 1996), where Faure could have seen it.
Katharine Baetjer 2022
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Pissarro. 1874
Jean-Baptiste Faure, Paris (until d. 1914); his son, Louis Maurice Faure, Paris (from 1914); his wife, Mme Maurice Faure, Paris (until 1919; sold on February 1 to Petit and Durand-Ruel); [Georges Petit, Paris, and Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York, from 1919]; [Paul Rosenberg, Paris and New York, by 1925–28; sold half-share to Wildenstein]; [Paul Rosenberg, Paris and New York, and Wildenstein, New York, 1928–39; sold by Wildenstein to Salomon]; Mrs. Arthur K. Salomon, New York (from 1939); Mrs. Walter (Edna H.) Sachs, New York (by 1945–56; life interest, 1956–d. 1975)
Paris. Paul Rosenberg. "Les Grandes influences au dix-neuvième siècle (d'Ingres à Cézanne)," January 15–February 7, 1925, no. 12 (as "Les collines d'Eragny, près Pontoise," lent by Faure).
Paris. Musée des Arts Décoratifs. "Cinquante ans de peinture française, 1875–1925," May 28–July 12, 1925, no. 57 (as "La gardeuse de vaches," lent by Paul Rosenberg).
London. French Gallery. "Great Masters of the French XIXth Century (Ingres to Picasso)," February 1926, no. 35 (as "Vaches au pâturage," lent by Paul Rosenberg, Paris, possibly this work).
New York. Wildenstein. "Camille Pissarro: His Place in Art," October 24–November 24, 1945, no. 12 (as "Gardeuse de Vache sur la Route du Chou, Pontoise," lent by Mrs. Walter Sachs).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Summer Loan Exhibition," June 22–September 30, 1956, no catalogue (as "Côte du Jallais," lent by Mrs. Walter Sachs).
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "C. Pissarro," March 25–May 1, 1965, no. 27 (as "Gardeuse de vache sur la route du Chou, Pontoise," lent by Mrs. Edna H. Sachs).
Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh. "Franse meesters uit het Metropolitan Museum of Art: Realisten en Impressionisten," March 15–May 31, 1987, no. 15 (as "Route de Chou, Pontoise").
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Camille Pissarro," November 19, 2005–February 19, 2006, no. 22 (as "A Cowherd on the route du Chou, Pontoise").
Melbourne. National Gallery of Victoria. "Camille Pissarro," March 4–May 28, 2006, no. 22.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 49.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT.
Notice sur la collection J.-B. Faure suivie du catalogue des tableaux formant cette collection. Paris, 1902, p. 42, no. 85.
Ludovic Rodo Pissarro and Lionello Venturi. Camille Pissarro, son art—son œuvre. reprint ed. 1989. Paris, 1939, vol. 1, pp. 40, 116, no. 260; vol. 2, pl. 52, no. 260.
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. 16–17, ill., compare it to "Jallais Hill, Pontoise" ( MMA 51.30.2).
Anthea Callen. "Jean-Baptiste Faure, 1830–1914: A Study of a Patron and Collector of the Impressionists and their Contemporaries." Master's thesis, University of Leicester, 1971, p. 393, no. 521, gives early provenance information and erroneously gives its current owner as Mrs. Arthur K. Salomon.
Anne Schirrmeister. Camille Pissarro. New York, 1982, p. 11, colorpl. 3.
Christopher Lloyd inRetrospective Camille Pissarro. Exh. cat., Isetan Museum of Art. [Tokyo], 1984, pp. 131, 133, under nos. 23, 33.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 86–87, ill. (color), notes that "although the painting has the appearance of a spontaneously conceived plein-air work, examination reveals a carefully constructed composition for which there were probably several preliminary drawings and studies"; remarks that the landscape is seen as a place in which peasants live and work.
Joachim Pissarro. Camille Pissarro. New York, 1993, p. 111, fig. 104 (color).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 439, ill.
Ruth Berson, ed. "Documentation: Volume I, Reviews and Volume II, Exhibited Works." The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. San Francisco, 1996, vol. 2, p. 43, no. II-202, ill. p. 62, suggests it was no. 202 in the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876 [see Ref. Snollaerts 2005].
Bent Lantow. "Pissarro contre la A104." Vivre en Val-d'Oise 50 (June–August 1998), p. 25, ill., states that it depicts the same site as "Le Chou près de Pontoise" of 1878 (PV 446) and "Paysage près de Pontoise, la route d'Auvers," of about 1879 (private collection; PV 504); agrees with Ref. Lloyd 1984 that this work and "Paysage près de Pontoise, la route d'Auvers" depict the same house, now destroyed; maps the locations of these and related paintings along the roads in Pontoise.
Terence Maloon inCamille Pissarro. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales. Sydney, 2005, pp. 20, 25, 99, 249, no. 22, colorpl. 22, ill. on front and back covers (color details), observes that green was not used extensively in landscape painting before the Impressionists and that it "must have seemed less pleasantly tranquil and more confronting to contemporary viewers because of the unsparing use of green—green being the colour of non-ideality, the colour of realism".
Terence Maloon and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts inCamille Pissarro. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales. Sydney, 2005, p. 235, state that it was shown at the 2nd Impressionist exhibition of 1876.
Sebastian Smee. "The Impressionist's Impressionist." Weekend Australian (November 26–27, 2005), p. R18.
Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts in Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts. Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings. Milan, 2005, vol. 1, pp. 373–74, 384, 390, 396, 411; vol. 2, pp. 271, 338, 367, 408, 430, 461, no. 354, ill. (color); vol. 3, pp. 953, 956, revises the identification of the site found in Ref. Pissarro and Venturi 1939, stating that it is a view of the côte du Valhermeil at Auvers-sur-Oise from the Pontoise road; lists other paintings of the same site.
Susan Alyson Stein inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 73, 245–46, no. 49, ill. (color and black and white).
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 87, 291, no. 81, ill. (color and black and white).
Richard Kendall. "'Dans un cafe', 'Zigzags' and Five Recovered Impressionist Drawings." Burlington Magazine 151 (May 2009), p. 308 n. 22.
Richard Shiff inCézanne and the Past: Tradition and Creativity. Exh. cat., Szépmüvészeti Múzeum. Budapest, 2012, p. 36, fig. 10 (color).
Stephen F. Eisenman inImpressionism: The Art of Landscape. Ed. Ortrud Westheider and Michael Philipp. Exh. cat., Museum Barberini, Potsdam. Munich, 2017, p. 51, fig. 5 (color), compares it to "The Hills at Le Chou, Pontoise" (1882, private collection).
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