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Camille Pissarro, The Avenue, Sydenham

Key facts
Full title The Avenue, Sydenham
Artist Camille Pissarro
Artist dates 1830 - 1903
Date made 1871
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 48 × 73 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1984
Inventory number NG6493
Location Room 44
Collection Main Collection
The Avenue, Sydenham
Camille Pissarro

This is one of 12 pictures that Pissarro painted while in self-imposed exile in London from 1870 to 1871 during the Franco-Prussian war. The Avenue was a wide, tree-lined street in Sydenham, a fashionable semi-rural suburb near Crystal Palace in south London. The location can be identified today as Lawrie Park Avenue with the church of Saint Bartholomew, built in 1832, in the distance. This springtime scene would have been painted in April or May 1871, shortly before Pissarro’s return to France.

Although a painting of an outdoor location, Pissarro completed it in his studio. With the exception of the sky, he mixed much of the paint with white to reduce the colour contrasts and create a consistent light tonality throughout. The traditional use of perspective, acceptable degree of finish and picturesque motif were perhaps intended to appeal to English buyers wary of the swift brushwork of Impressionist painting.

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