Pissarro, who spent the final 20 years of his life in the village of Éragny-sur-Epte, was one of the French countryside’s most authentic and imaginative painters. He had an extraordinary empathy for those who lived and worked in the fields and orchards nearby, and this empathy inspired some of his most famous paintings featuring apple trees. Below, a few of these paintings are discussed.
For most of his life, Pissarro painted in the impressionist style, and the environment frequently impacted the compositions he was working on. However, French Impressionist artist Pissarro was open to experimenting with different working methods and often found inspiration in his coworkers.
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Apple Trees in Bloom
When he created this exquisite picture, Apple Trees in Bloom, painter Pissarro had only been a resident of Louveciennes for one year. After painting Pissarro landscape drawings from his neighborhood, he was now on a tour of the adjacent countryside.
Pissarro’s impressionist paintings are strongly connected to nature. He must have been thrilled to see the apple trees bloom in the spring after spending the previous winter painting outside in deep snow.
The angles and lines that make up this scene are intricately designed. In this Pissarro landscape painting, the road is merely one of several color layers that come to a point and disappear in a far-off group of homes.
The diagonal row of apple trees in the lower left is perfectly aligned except for the front leaning tree, which throws off the line. There is a settlement in the distance, possibly Louveciennes. The apple trees act as a screen, obscuring and revealing the surrounding landscape. Pissarro utilized this kind of composition for the first time the previous year, and he developed his usage of it during his career.
Apple Trees and Haymakers
Danish-French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) created Apple Trees and Haymakers in 1895 as an oil painting on canvas.
Artist Pissarro was always eager to catch agricultural laborers at work, and this painting is one of Camille Pissarro’s most famous paintings. It was done close to the artist’s home in Eragny. This painting makes it to the list of Camille Pissarro most famous paintings.
Pissarro’s Apple Harvest
Pissarro’s apple harvest has a harmony that may be seen on many levels. The gathering of apples demonstrates the harmony between people and nature. There is also the well-considered harmony of the painting’s arrangement, where the figures and the apple tree’s shadow balance out the tree’s crooked shape. With its extensive, deeply curving furrows, the field beyond is itself in balance and harmony with the curvature of the horizon and, thus, the earth itself. Nevertheless, what is most striking is the color harmony in the shape of dots.
Two years after the last Impressionist show and fourteen years after the artist participated in the inaugural Impressionist exhibition, which debuted on April 15, 1874, Pissarro’s Apple Harvest was completed in 1888.
With Apple Harvest, the artist temporarily abandons his purportedly Impressionist method of painting in favor of experimenting with the Pointillism technique, which was used to characterize the Neo-Impressionism of artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. These artists investigated color and optics by dissolving shape and light into minute colored specks or dots, subsequently modified by human sight into recognizable forms.
The subject Pissarro used for this experiment was not chosen at random. Between 1881 and 1888, he created three renditions of this scene, demonstrating his attention to the composition and the shape of this particular apple tree with its bent limb.
The largest of these works was included with Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” (1884) and Signac’s “The Milliner” in the final Impressionist exhibition (1885). These pieces constituted a sort of Neo-Impressionism manifesto.
In many ways, Pissarro’s 1888 Apple Harvest painting is the result of years of experimenting. As such, it has an air of idealization and synthesis about it. Harmony was an essential component of his process for creating a painting, a balance between his unique perception of reality and the aspects of reality as they are seen.
Why Did Camille Pissaro Paint Apple Trees?
Interestingly, Pissaro is attributed with saying, “The senses reawaken in September and October.” This assertion makes it more evident why Pissarro would have chosen an apple harvest as his ideal subject. If apples represent seasonality and change, they may also represent the artist’s collection of feelings to paint.
Along with documenting the apple harvest, Pissarro painted orchards throughout the year and paid close attention to how his plot of land in Éragny changed from spring blossom to the sparse, naked branches of winter. In addition, he made careful observations and tried out several photographic techniques to capture the subtlest variations in color, light, weather, and atmosphere. Between 1895 and 1902, he painted three images of the orchard in Éragny that provide evidence of his attentiveness to these minute changes in his environment.
Along with depicting the natural world, Pissarro’s orchards also depict rural labor, symbolizing the seasonal cycle through the workers’ presence. This theme is consistent with Pissarro’s political beliefs and increasingly anti-bourgeois position, which favors socialist ideals and individuals who oppose capitalism. His subject matter reflected his opinions, and starting in the 1850s, he was dedicated to depicting rural landscapes.
In many respects, the rural laborers in his landscapes protested against the rapid modernization permeating France at the time. But instead, they offered a window onto a timeless world that elevated the lowly peasant as a symbol of humanity.
To go back to Apple Harvest, the artist’s depiction of a symmetrical landscape in paint is achieved by choosing one crooked apple tree and the labor-intensive process of picking its apples.
To sum up, Pissarro was unquestionably empathetic to those who lived and worked in the fields and orchards. His work is characterized by realistic paintings and his use of decisive, diverse brushwork. In addition, he used bright colors to capture the scene’s natural impacts of weather and natural light, and he particularly enjoyed painting apple trees.