Pissarro and his family moved to Louveciennes in the spring of 1869, and he may have painted this picture shortly afterwards, or possibly in the spring of 1870. Only 30 minutes west of Paris by train, Louveciennes was an important location for early Impressionism, as it was one of the small towns and villages that were frequently visited in the late 1860s and early 1870s by the Impressionist painters.
Louveciennes itself is some distance away to the left, beyond the picture. The group of houses in the middle of the painting is the neighbouring village of Voisins, and part of the Marly aqueduct can be seen against the sky.
Pissarro has structured the landscape as a series of layered bands, with the road and a row of bushes or vines in the foreground and, in the distance, the hills and aqueduct. The picture’s soft tones and warm earthy colours show Corot’s influence upon Pissarro, although the loose fluid brushwork aligns it with Impressionism.
Pissarro and his family moved to Louveciennes in the spring of 1869, and he may have painted this picture shortly afterwards, or possibly in the spring of 1870. The white blossom on the apple trees indicates the time of year.
Only 30 minutes west of Paris by train, Louveciennes was an important location for the formation of early Impressionism, as it was one of the small towns and villages that were frequently visited by Impressionist painters in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Sisley lived nearby and Renoir often visited his parents’ summer home there.
The picture was formerly titled Springtime, View of Louveciennes, although this is not in fact a view of the town, which is some distance away, to the left of the picture. Instead, we are looking at a road called the route de la Princesse, which ran from the train station at Bougival (where Monet was living) to Pissarro’s house in Louveciennes. The group of houses in the middle of the painting is the neighbouring village of Voisins. Part of the Marly aqueduct can be seen against the sky on the left.
Pissarro has arranged the scene as a series of layered bands, with the road and a row of bushes or vines in the foreground and, in the distance, the hills and aqueduct. The gentle rise and fall of the landscape recalls paintings by Corot, who Pissarro had met and whose paintings he had closely studied, as does the plain country road along which several local residents are travelling. Closest to us is a peasant woman wearing a white bonnet; furthest back is a man driving a simple wagon pulled by a donkey or mule. Pissarro has kept all four figures in the middle and far distance, their features undefined, so they do not distract us from the overall composition.
Corot’s influence can also be seen in the painting’s soft tones and range of colours, particularly its earthy browns and the warm yellow-ochre for the road. Here, Pissarro has followed Corot’s advice to pay attention to a painting’s ‘values’ (Corot’s term for the tonal relationships within it). However, Pissarro’s looser brushwork is more pronounced than that of Corot, who was critical of Impressionism – for example, where he builds up structure with small strokes and dabs of paint.
Renoir painted the same view a few months later (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). But whereas Pissarro presents an agricultural scene populated by rural people, Renoir’s landscape is more untamed. He also included a well-dressed bourgeois family who pass by a peasant wearing traditional blue clothing, to create an image of a middle-class stroll in the countryside rather than a working landscape.
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