Not on display
The impressionists had eagerly taken the opportunity to paint snow, which, because of their interest in varieties of weather conditions and natural colours, became a particular speciality. For example, in the winter of 1885 Camille Pissarro painted a group of snow scenes at Eragny, where Lucien, although mostly then based in Paris where he was making some of his first paintings and illustrations, often visited him. Camille also painted a snow scene in England in 1870 during Lucien’s first visit to the country (fig.1). Lucien did not paint snow particularly often: first in the winter of 1892 at Eragny, then in 1909–10 at Stamford Brook in west London, but then not again until four paintings, of which this is one, at Coldharbour in 1916. In Ivy Cottage, Coldharbour: Sun and Snow he also repeats another habit of the impressionists: depicting the sun full face low in the sky. It is partly hidden behind the branches of the fir tree at the left and is painted in thick impasto, surrounded by arcs of pink. The colours of the snow are striking, in blue and shades of pink and pinkish grey. A figure at the centre wearing a long coat with its collar up and a tight-fitting hat walks away up the hill.
The cottage at the left, which almost disappears behind ivy, is the ‘Ivy Cottage’ of the title, where the Pissarros lived from November 1915 to July the following year.1 Coldharbour, near Leith Hill, south of Dorking in Surrey, was another remote village rather like Fishpond in Dorset where Pissarro had stayed the year before, and was again close to steep hills. He painted the view from the hills, and painted snow again the following winter, when he was living at East Knoyle in Wiltshire. His friend J.B. Manson wrote to Pissarro about the effects of snow on 2 February 1914:
Anne Thorold, A Catalogue of the Oil Paintings of Lucien Pissarro, London 1983, p.18. Orovida Pissarro confirmed the place in replying to an enquiry from the Tate Gallery of 16 September 1958: ‘Ivy Cottage is on the left of the picture and that is where my parents rented furnished rooms for a seasons painting.’ Tate Catalogue file.
J.B. Manson, letter to Lucien Pissarro, 2 February 1914, Tate Archive TGA 806/2/11–22.
Stamford Brook Green (Snow and Mist) 1909–10, 61 x 73.5 cm; Thorold 1983, no.132.
Geoffrey Blackwell, letter to J.B. Manson, 2 May 1913, Tate Archive TGA 806/1/104–6.
J.B. Manson, ‘Mr Geoffrey Blackwell’s Collection of Modern Pictures’, Studio, vol.61, 15 May 1914, p.272.
John Rothenstein, letter to Sir Walter Lamb, 22 April 1943, Tate Catalogue file.
J. Cornforth, ‘A French Impressionist in England’, Country Life, vol.123, no.3437, 17 January 1963, pp.98–9.