Camille Pissarro
(St-Thomas, 1830-1903, Paris)
Peasant Woman Combing Wool, 1875
Oil on canvas, 56 x 47 cm
Signed & dated lower left: C. Pissarro 1875
Pissarro/Durand-Ruel 420
This painting of a wool comber is filled with the quiet peace which Pissarro repeatedly sought out with his painter friend Lodovic Piette at Montfoucault in the Département Mayenne between Normandy and Brittany, when he did not know which way to turn. This not only meant for him and his large family relief from worry and relaxation on Piette’s farm, but the fresh impressions of the unspoiled country life there animated him, and cooperation with his friend on painting also helped him to forget the disappointments of life. This also had its effect on the works created there over the years, works which, no doubt based on the personal relation to Piette, possess an unproblematical freshness; this is true too of our picture of 1875, which achieves serene harmony with its rich green impasto applied with the spatula and the foamy white of the wool and the white of the woman’s cap. In 1874, Pissarro had written as follows from Montfoucault to Théodore Duret, who had been the first, in 1870, to bring out a book on the Impressionists: "I concern myself with figures and animals. Several genre studies have been done: I approach this realm of art with timidity; I am abashed by the first-class works of earlier artists in the field; I am afraid of failure!".