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Camille Pissarro

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Afternoon Sunshine, Pont Neuf, 1901

About the Artwork

Troubled by eye infections, Pissarro visited a doctor in Paris in 1893 and was advised to avoid dust, wind, and bright sunlight, since they might further irritate his eyes. Forced to work indoors, he took advantage of the views available from the windows of his apartment, which gave him a spectacular perspective onto the streets below. In the following decade Pissarro returned to Paris on several occasions, usually in the winter months, to paint cityscapes from various apartment windows around the city. In November 1900 he rented rooms on the Île de la Cité, from which he painted several views of the busy Pont Neuf. The massive bridge slices diagonally across this composition, carrying people, carriages, and wagons to and from the department stores of the Right Bank and the older, largely residential areas of the unseen Île de la Cité. The crowded pedestrian footpath lining the bridge is a jumble of disjointed strokes of paint that form no coherent or distinguishable figures but rather a colorful, moving mass. The restless energy and dynamism of the city was an appealing subject for the Impressionists and especially for Pissarro, whose city views celebrate urban life, architecture, and commerce. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 64

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