Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 1, 2011

Pissarro’s People

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Museum is an especially nice place to visit in summer, when day lilies, daisies, chicory, and Queen Anne’s lace border so many roads to Williamstown, MA. And while this show focuses on people rather than landscapes, Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) often shows them working in fields and gardens, or in quiet moments by windows or haystacks. Seeing this work felt like a short vacation on the French countryside.

I learned that Pissarro was born in the Caribbean before coming to France to settle. He was a non-practicing Jew who married a Catholic woman who’d worked in his mother’s house. He painted many pictures of their eight children reading and drawing within a creative household, including a poignant series of a daughter, Minette, who died young. Beauty and tragedy, there on one wall.

Another gallery focuses on domestic work, which is pictured with respect or romanticism, depending on your point of view: maybe a blend. He viewed the work of servants and farmers as being of great importance, but, while he expressed revolutionary points of view, you have to wonder whether the people he painted while sewing or harvesting were as happy as he hoped. His anarchist beliefs and faith in good country life paralleled those espoused by Tolstoy around that time. We get to view an album of drawings Pissarro made for his nieces that show his views of the ills of modern capitalism. While Pissarro made beautiful oil paints, he also took care to make drawings and prints that could be a more affordable way for people to put art in their homes.

The show will be up until October 2. And if you want to include a swim nearby-ish, I recommend Savoy State Park. Water: clear and cool.



  1. Thanks for the tip!

  2. It’s a favorite museum.
    I’m looking forward to a new Linda Urban novel soon!

  3. Fabulous! Thank you SO much for sharing!

  4. Sorry, I left a comment but forgot to turn my name on. I enjoyed your visit to the museum!

  5. Thanks, Dori!

  6. Thanks, Debbi. Your anniversary pics were wonderful!

  7. Oooh, these pieces are perfect for ekphrasis! Thanks for providing my writing prompt for the day. 🙂

  8. Wish I could’ve been there in Williamstown with you, Jeannine — and Savoy State Park. Thanks for taking me there in spirit, and for bringing Pissarro along with you.

  9. Yay for poetry based on paintings! And you. I feel esp moved by Madame Pissarro sewing by the window. Oh, windows. Hope I get to read yours!

  10. Oh, you there would have made the day perfect. Glad you could come along in spirit. Lakes and paintings (and blueberries) make the 90 degrees good.

  11. Guess where this exhibit will be in late October? At the Legion of Honor! And because of your fabulous post, I plan to go see it! YAY!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: