French (1830 – 1903)

Paysage sous bois, a l’Hermitage (Pontoise)1879

Delteil 16 v/v; Shapiro 161 vi/vi. Softground etching and aquatint with touches of drypoint on thin laid japanese paper. Edition of 50, intended but never issued in Le Jour et la Nuit. Signed in pencil.

8 5/8 x 10 1/2 inches  |  21.9 x 26.7 cm

This rare print is arguably the most renowned etching by the artist and his most impressionist. The plein-air landscape with a rich textural and painterly surface was executed in L’Hermitage, where Pissarro lived on and off from 1866-1883.   It was commissioned for a project conceived by Degas, an Impressionist print journal to be titled Le Jour et la Nuit but never brought to fruition. It is an important experimental print that uses soft-ground, layers of aquatint brushed directly onto the plate, and scraping in a highly innovative and inventive way. In a fascinating series of successive proofs, the layers of aquatint duplicate dense brushstrokes to produce a prismatic impression of the landscape.

The rural neighborhood in Pontoise was a favorite subject for Pissarro and it shows the influence of Cezanne in the concern for abolishing distances; the curtain of trees seems at the same level as the building in the background, which was gradually obscured over multiple states.  It’s one of the rare Pissarro prints that had an edition during his lifetime. Pissarro exhibited this print at the Impressionist exhibition of 1880, at Durand-Ruel in 1889-90, and then at the exhibition of La Libre Esthetique in 1895. 

Provenance: Montclair Art Museum, acquired 1945, deaccessioned