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One of Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro's only pair of seascapes surfaces at Bonhams
Camille Pissarro, Falaises aux Petites-Dalles. Estimated: £150,000 – 200,000. Photo: Bonhams.
LONDON.- A rare painting of the Normandy coastline by leading Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro is one of the key highlights in Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale on 5th February at New Bond Street, London. ‘Falaises aux Petites-Dalles’, estimated at £150,000 – 200,000 is one of only two paintings of the coast that Pissarro is known to have conceived since he arrived in Europe from the Caribbean in 1855. The whereabouts of the other work is not known, making this a truly remarkable painting to see on the market.

Painted in 1883, ‘Falaises aux Petites-Dalles’ is an atmospheric representation of the coastline in northern France, which marked a transition in the artist’s career. Pissarro’s sojourn near Rouen saw a departure from the scenes inspired by his home village of Pontoise, where he had hitherto focussed his energies. During his stay near the coast he devoted his time to painting the town and harbour both ‘en plein air’ and from his hotel bedroom. Pissarro returned with seventeen canvases, including ‘Falaises aux Petites-Dalles’ and another seascape, which has never been seen on the market and is now lost.

In addition to a difference in subject matter, ‘Falaises aux Petites-Dalles’ also shows a distinct shift in the style of Pissarro’s painting. His brushwork is looser and there is more of a focus on surface pattern, heralding a new phase in his work. The sea and the sky dominate the composition, with heavy rain clouds, about which he had complained in his letters home. The broader brushwork and greater emphasis on the surface of the canvas draws attention to the swirling pink and grey-blue pigment which dance across the foreboding sky, giving an intense atmosphere to the scene.

William O’Reilly, Director of the Impressionist and Modern Art Department commented, “Pissarro is considered one of the greatest of the Impressionist artists but unlike Monet, relatively little is known about his seascapes. It is fantastic to offer a painting that gives such a rare insight into the transitionary period of his career. The whereabouts of Pissarro’s other seascape ‘Marine aux Petites-Dalles’ remains a complete mystery, making this painting an even more exciting discovery.”

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