This picture, along with two others in The Met’s collection (1979.414
), is from Pissarro’s first series featuring the Tuileries Garden. During the last ten years of his life, he expanded his repertoire of largely rural subjects with more than three hundred views of French cities, recording the changing effects of seasons, weather, and time of day on the urban environment (see Brettell and Pissarro 1992). After undertaking three painting campaigns in Rouen (see 58.133
) and setting up his easel in various Paris hotel rooms to survey the grand boulevards (see 60.174
), he decided to rent an apartment overlooking this quintessential French park.The Composition:
Between January and June 1899, Pissarro painted fourteen views of the Tuileries from a third-floor flat at 204, rue de Rivoli. Six are from this vantage point looking southwest over the garden toward the Left Bank with the Grand Bassin nearly straight ahead. Across the Seine, the spires of Sainte-Clotilde (completed in 1857, 67 meters high) and the golden Dôme des Invalides (completed in 1861, 107 meters high) pierce the horizon line of mid-rise buildings.
Nature plays a greater role in the Tuileries paintings than in his previous cityscapes, but even the natural elements bear evidence of human control. In the foreground, the freshly manicured green grass and leafy trees, trimmed in the marquise style, indicate the onset of spring. Shadows cast to the west signal morning light on a clear day with puffy clouds scattered across the pale blue sky. Straight sandy pathways radiate with geometric precision from the round central pool (Grand Bassin). Sculptures on stone pedestals, smaller boxed trees, and flowering bushes border the parterres, kept free of foot traffic by low-slung fences. The garden is populated with promenaders, many in pairs, including a woman with a baby carriage at the lower edge. Pissarro rendered the figures summarily with a few darker brushstrokes distinguishing them from the light ground.
Across the composition, the loose handling of paint and blond tonality harken back to his earlier Impressionist style, following a period when he had experimented with the fastidious dotted brushwork and pure colors championed by the Neo-Impressionists. Indeed, Signac registered his disappointment in Pissarro’s take on the Tuileries when he saw the initial winter views, still unfinished, in February 1899: “His earlier works hang on the walls of the room, making it plain how much these new ones yield to them. Truly, in these dirty, cloudy tones we can no longer see what a wonderful colorist Pissarro was.” Yet by spring, sunnier weather forecast Pissarro’s use of a brighter palette.
Since the beginning of his career, Pissarro strived to depict his “sensations,” or personal perceptions of moments in time rendered in a fluid technique. The Tuileries provided a subject that was both timeless, in its historic presence, and transitory, constantly evolving with the changes in light, atmosphere, and activity.The Tuileries Garden:
Located at the heart of Paris, the Tuileries Garden was conceived to frame the palace built for Catherine de’ Medici (1519–1589) that ultimately was burned during the French Commune in 1871 and demolished in 1882. The complex took its name from the tile workshops (tuileries
) that had fabricated roofing materials on the property from the thirteenth century. Although the garden was begun in 1561, the hallmarks of its present appearance date to the reign of Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) when renowned landscape architect André Le Nôtre (1613–1700) redesigned it in the French formal style with grand vistas, broad allées, and a symmetrical distribution of pools and plantings. The Tuileries became one of the first royal gardens opened to the public and by the nineteenth century was a favorite haunt of the bourgeoisie and working classes alike. At the same time, artists––including Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Bonnard, and Vuillard––were drawn to the site as a “space of modern life.” In 1875–76, Monet (see figs. 1, 2 above) and Renoir painted the Tuileries from the apartment of collector Victor Chocquet at 198, rue de Rivoli, nearly next door to where Pissarro would set up two decades later.Pissarro and the Tuileries:
Pissarro created thirty-one pictures of the Tuileries Garden between January 1899 and July 1900. Letters to his sons shed light on his process, from the moment he began to scout for a motif “with plenty of Parisian character, beautiful to paint,” while satisfying his wife’s desire for a comfortable family home. He reported on December 4, 1898, that he secured the apartment at 204, rue de Rivoli “facing the Tuileries, with a superb view of the Park, the Louvre to the left, in the background the houses on the quays behind the trees, to the right the Dôme des Invalides, the steeples of Ste. Clotilde behind the solid mass of chestnut trees,” a description that corresponds closely to the composition of this painting. The cash-strapped Impressionist acknowledged that at 4,200 francs, the rent was “going to be expensive, but I hope to get the money back with the series.”
He moved in one month later and by January 22 was “hard at work” but had “only been able to begin effects of grey and rainy days [due to] miserable weather.” On March 16, he wrote again, “I am drudging away, although I have had to discontinue work at times on account of the heavy mists. I have fourteen canvases on the easel, of which twelve are finished. The motifs of the [Arc du] Carrousel and the Jardin des Tuileries please everybody, but so far I have had nothing but effects of fog. I am awaiting the thrust of the leaves and flowers so as to get more varied effects.” This letter indicates that he had begun all fourteen of the pictures that comprised his first campaign by the middle of March. One month later, he checked in, stating he had “done much work on my Tuileries series.” By mid-May, he sent his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel eleven of the works, including this one and 1979.414 for 3,000 francs each. (He had already contributed the third Met picture (66.36) to an auction for the benefit of Alfred Sisley’s children, following the painter’s untimely death.)
In June, the family left Paris to spend the summer in rural Eragny. Once the weather turned cold, Pissarro rented the rue de Rivoli apartment again from November 1899 to May 1900, when he executed a second series of fourteen paintings, and for a third short stint in June–July 1900, resulting in a final addendum of three works (see Snollaerts 2005).Exhibition and Reception:
Pissarro’s Tuileries paintings were exhibited only once before his death. In 1901, Durand-Ruel staged a one-man show at his Paris gallery of forty-two pictures Pissarro had made since his last solo exhibition in 1898. The present work and possibly 1979.414 were among the sixteen views of the Tuileries on display. Critical reception was mainly positive and focused on the treatment of atmospheric effects on this time-honored site. Jules de Saint-Hilaire referred to the Tuileries and Rouen canvases as Pissarro’s “sun-dial series” and highlighted the “geometrical roundabouts” and “wide expanse of sky” as hallmarks of this “marvelous setting” in “one of the most picturesque spots in Paris.” Robert Moret found the Tuileries series “remarkable for the genuine poetry distilled by its depiction of the spots we love” and mused, “where is the citizen of Paris who will not delight in revisiting, where is the foreigner who will not recognize with deep feeling, that admirable corner of our admirable Paris?” The critic in Le Journal des Débats
commended the views of Paris as “the best Pissarro has ever painted, having a particular and infinite seductiveness” and added that “few artists have succeeded in expressing the truth of light and atmosphere with such force.” Antonin Proust also hailed Pissarro’s “forcefulness . . . at the height of his powers” in the works on view. Georges Viau, François Thiébault-Sisson, Arsène Alexandre, and even the critic for the New York Herald
joined the chorus of admirers, while the few detractors were dismissive of Pissarro’s fixation on fleeting effects of weather.
Scholarship on this painting has continued to emphasize its significance as one of Pissarro’s late urban series pictures and to situate it among his attempts to render light in different atmospheric conditions. In 1946, John Rewald attributed Pissarro’s shift to “painting from behind closed windows” to an eye infection that made him uncomfortable working outdoors. Once he exhausted the possibilities from his home in Eragny, subsequent travels, including visits to see Lucien in London, presented him with new subjects. Richard Brettell speculates that Pissarro could have been inspired by Canaletto’s paintings of Venice in the National Gallery, Japanese prints of complex urban scenes, and caricatures that appealed to his leftist sympathies, and distinguishes Pissarro’s cityscapes from those of Monet and Caillebotte, who were less interested in the distinction of social types (Brettell and Pissarro 1992). Joachim Pissarro adds that the artist developed an efficient and flexible technique to help him capture the effects of atmosphere that he was after. Such concerns had been central to the Impressionist movement since its origins and took on renewed interest in the 1890s when several of the artists, most notably Monet, began working in series. Pissarro’s Tuileries pictures have invariably been compared to Monet’s series and generally found to be less systematic in their attempt to catalogue different conditions of weather (see Shikes and Harper 1980). His intent to preserve freedom in artistic expression has been linked to his anarchist views, which perhaps carries over to his choice of a site deeply rooted in French history, from the pageantry of parades to the bloody Commune of 1871.
Laura D. Corey 2018
 “Extraits du journal inédit de Paul Signac, 1897–1898, 1898–1899,” Arts de France
, nos. 11–12 , translated in Albert Kostenevich. Hidden Treasures Revealed: Impressionist Masterpieces and Other Important French Paintings Preserved by the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
. Exh. cat., New York, 1995, p. 165.
 For more on nineteenth-century artists who depicted the Tuileries, see Laura D. Corey, “Picturing the Tuileries in the Nineteenth Century: The Park, Its Public, and Its Politics,” in The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden
. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 2013, pp. 83–111; and Ives 2018, pp. 37–43.
 Camille Pissarro. Letter to Georges Pissarro. November 18, 1898 [published in Janine Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro: Tome 4 / 1895–1898
, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, 1989, p. 519, no. 1600; and translated in Brettell and Pissarro 1992, p. 103].
 Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. December 4, 1898 [published in Bailly-Herzberg 1989, p. 522, no. 1605; excerpts translated in John Rewald, ed., Camille Pissarro, Letters to His Son Lucien
, London, 1980, p. 333, and Brettell and Pissarro 1992, p. 103].
 Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. January 22, 1899 [published in Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro: Tome 5 / 1899–1903
, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, 1991, p. 9, no. 1621; and translated in Rewald 1980, p. 334].
 Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. March 16, 1899 [published in Bailly-Herzberg 1991, pp. 17–18, no. 1628; and translated in Rewald 1980, p. 335].
 Camille Pissarro. Letter to Lucien Pissarro. April 12, 1899 [published in Bailly-Herzberg 1991, p. 22, no. 1632].
 Camille Pissarro. Letter to Durand-Ruel. May 17, 1899 [published in Bailly-Herzberg 1991, p. 26, no. 1637].
 For reviews of the 1901 exhibition, see Snollaerts 2005, vol. 1, pp. 299–300, and vol. 3, p. 783.
 Corey 2013, p. 99.