Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer
Camille Pissarro (France, 1830–1903)
Apple Trees in a Meadow at Éragny, (Pommiers dans le Pré à Éragny), 1894
Oil on canvas
25 3/8 x 32 in.
Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000
The peace of rural life drew many of the Impressionists to the country including Camille Pissarro, who settled in Éragny-sur-Epte near the Oise River in 1884. The commune was largely agricultural and had scarcely 500 inhabitants when Pissarro relocated. He painted Apple Trees in a Meadow at Éragny (Pommiers dans le Pré à Éragny) from the window of his studio, a converted barn. Pissarro sought a contemplative spirit in many of his works, especially later in life, and the female figure in the foreground provides a means by which the viewer may inhabit the greening meadow, populated only by an orchard of apple trees and a small herd of cattle. Nestled in the thicket beyond, the smaller village of Bazincourt-sur-Epte appears on the horizon. The painting represents the retreat from the urban world that Pissarro sought later in life and a continuation of the pastoral tradition Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot initiated in French modern painting.
Pissarro executed Apple Trees in a Meadow at Éragny in his late Impressionist style with thick, abbreviated strokes of paint representing the effect of light on forms. Pissarro had been a mentor to many of the Impressionists and showed in all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions, but he became dissatisfied with the style in the 1880s and began experimenting with the scientific leanings of Neo-Impressionism, also referred to as Pointillism and Divisionism, after meeting Georges Seurat and Paul Signac in 1885. By the time Pissarro moved to Éragny-sur-Epte, he returned to Impressionism, believing that the style could express his vision of the natural world and already having digested the lessons of Neo-Impressionism.