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Pissarro: a painter for the people

July 13th, 2018

Pisarro's Le pont Boieldieu à Rouen, a painting of a bridge over a river

Camille Pissarro. Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather, 1896. Oil on canvas, 73.6 × 91.4 cm. Gift of Reuben Wells Leonard Estate, 1937. © Art Gallery of Ontario

The word Impressionism might bring to mind scenes of water lilies or starry nights. But French painter Camille Pissarro – born 188 years ago this week – was known for something more than dreamy natural landscapes.

Heralded by Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin as the father of Impressionism, Pissarro’s paintings often depict everyday people at work, in cities or fields, in crowds or up-close. To celebrate Pissarro’s birthday, we’re taking a close look at his work Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather.

Painted in 1896 from the window of his hotel room in the northern French city of Rouen, this work is one in a series of 15 paintings the artist completed of the Boieldieu bridge. During this time Pissarro lived in the rural town of Éragny. In search of a change of pace, he frequently made trips to cities like Rouen, feeling revitalized by the bustling energy and industrial activity he saw there.

Currently on view at the AGO on Level 1 in the Richard Barry Fudger Memorial Gallery, visitors will have the chance to see this work with other Impressionist masterpieces when the AGO debuts the first-ever exhibition of industry and labour in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and more, opening February 16, 2019.

We caught up with Caroline Shields, the AGO’s Assistant Curator, European Art, to tell us more about this painting and Pissarro’s fascination with people at work. Watch the Facebook live below to learn more.

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