Lucien Pissarro

High View, Fish Pond

1915

Artist
Lucien Pissarro 1863–1944
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 533 x 648 mm
frame: 778 x 876 x 67 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1917
Reference
N03179

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

Fishpond in Dorset is a small village near the ridge of a hill looking south towards the sea at Charmouth, three miles away. The ‘High View’ of the title is the name of the house in the foreground.1 This panoramic view, from a turning off the road to Crewkerne, looks out over the hills on a summer day. The overall light tonality reveals the sunlight on the road and the roofs in the foreground, where a woman wearing a large sun-hat walks by. The viewpoint brings out the pattern of roads in the middle ground and the compartmented shapes of fields and farmhouses, with the hills in the distance appearing blue, bearing similarities with Robert Bevan’s and Charles Ginner’s structured portrayals of the landscape (fig.1). In comparison to Pissarro’s earlier painting of Epping in Essex (Tate N04747, fig.2), the colours here are less brilliant, and are not applied in such an ordered way. The sunlight falling from one side creates a strong contrast of light and shade, and the shapes of the bushes in the foreground have been strengthened with outlines drawn over in blue paint.

Pissarro did not paint in London during the First World War, fearing that people might think he was a foreign spy and that he might be breaking the law. As he was also short of money, he sub-let his house, The Brook, on Stamford Brook Road in Chiswick for almost the entire period, and rented a series of houses in country villages in the south of Britain. He lived at Seaview Cottage in Fishpond from May to November 1915.2 From there he sent his finished paintings to his friend J.B. Manson, then Chief Clerk at the Tate Gallery, who attempted to sell them to private collectors and to the Tate itself. On 13 August 1915 he wrote to Pissarro: ‘Your pictures arrived safely. They are beautiful, particularly the one of the hills, which is very fine indeed. [Director of the Tate Gallery, Charles] Aitken likes it very much and thinks perhaps the Contemporary Art Society will buy it.’3 Later on, Manson singled out High View, Fishpond as the best: ‘Go to it, my dear old man. You are surpassing yourself. I think the High View is a masterpiece.’4

David Fraser Jenkins
October 2002

Notes

1
Remembered by Orovida Pissarro in a note of an interview in September 1958, Tate Catalogue file.
2
Anne Thorold, A Catalogue of the Oil Paintings of Lucien Pissarro, London 1983, p.18.
3
Pissarro Papers, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, quoted in W.S. Meadmore, Lucien Pissarro: Un Coeur simple, London 1962, p.151.
4
Quoted ibid., p.152.
5
Anne Thorold, A Catalogue of the Oil Paintings of Lucien Pissarro, London 1983, nos.208–21.
6
Lucien Pissarro, letter to Michael Sadler, 30 September 1915, Tate Archive TGA 8221/2/137.
7
Thorold 1983, no.186.
8
Michael Sadler, Michael Ernest Sadler, 1861–1943: A Memoir by his Son, London 1949, p.385.
9
J.B. Manson, ‘Some Notes on the Painting of Lucien Pissarro’, Studio, vol.69, November 1916, p.64.
10
J.B. Manson, Hours in the Tate Gallery, London 1926, p.127.

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