Camille Pissarro

The Pork Butcher


Not on display

Camille Pissarro 1830–1903
Original title
La Charcutière
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 651 × 543 mm
Bequeathed by Lucien Pissarro, the artist's son 1944

Display caption

Like 'The Little Country Maid', this painting was executed while the artist lived near Pontoise, north-west of Paris. During the 1880s he became interested in painting rural market scenes, several of which were based on the markets at Pontoise and its neighbouring villages. Such subjects allowed Pissarro to combine the study of the human figure with depictions of outdoor scenes of everyday rural life. Although he wrote to his son Lucien that he wished the painting to have a 'certain naive freshness', hence the light and informal brushstrokes, the central figure of the 'charcutière' was painted from the model and the pose carefully studied.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Camille Pissarro 1830-1903

N05576 La Charcutière (The Pork-Butcher) 1883

Inscribed 'C. Pissarro 1883' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 21 3/8 (65 x 54.5)
Bequeathed by Lucien Pissarro to the National Gallery 1944; transferred 1950
Prov: Lucien Pissarro, London
Exh: Pictures by Camille Pissarro, Stafford Gallery, London, October 1911 (20); Post-Impressionist and Futurist Exhibition, Doré Galleries, London, October 1913 (4); Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Camille Pissarro, 1830-1903, Leicester Galleries, London, May 1920 (71); Centenaire de la Naissance de Camille Pissarro, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, February-March 1930 (63); Oil Paintings by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Tate Gallery, June-October 1931 (5); Birmingham City Art Gallery, October-November 1931 (5); Castle Museum, Nottingham, November-December 1931; War Memorial Art Gallery, Stockport, January 1932 (27); Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, February-March 1932 (25); Bootle Public Museum, April-May 1932 (26); Leeds City Art Gallery, July 1932 (20); Northampton Art Gallery, August-September 1932 (13); Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, September 1932 (13); Rochdale Art Gallery, October-November 1932; C. Pissarro, Stafford Gallery, London, May-June 1939 (19)
Lit: Ludovic Rodo Pissarro and Lionello Venturi, Camille Pissarro: son Art - son Oeuvre (Paris 1939), No.615. Vol.1, p.168, repr. Vol.2, pl.127; John Rewald (ed.), Camille Pissarro: Letters to his son Lucien (London 1943), pp.22, 38; John Rewald, Camille Pissarro (London 1963), p.134, repr. p.135 in colour
Repr: Studio, XCIX, 1930, p.417

Pissarro first became interested in scenes of rural markets in 1881, while living at Pontoise. Then on 20 February 1883 he wrote to his son Lucien from Osny, near Pontoise: 'I do not budge from here, I work as much as I can on the landscapes. I have already begun and am at work on my picture of The Market which I have changed completely'. On 22 July 1883, he added: 'I haven't done much work outdoors this season, the weather was unfavourable, and I am obsessed with a desire to paint figures which are difficult to compose with. I have made some small sketches; when I have revolved the problem in my mind, I shall get to work. I had Nini pose as a butcher's girl at the Place du Grand Martoy; the painting will have, I hope, a certain naive freshness. The background, that's the difficulty.'

X-ray photographs confirm that some changes were made in the composition. The woman on the right has been completely repainted and was originally in profile bending over to the left in an attitude which echoed that of the central figure. The only other marked difference, however, is that the foreground figure had an older head: this was perhaps painted from Mme Pissarro, the artist's wife. As Pissarro said, the model for the final figure was his niece Nini (Mlle Eugénie Estruc), of whom he also painted several portraits. The background was probably based mainly on studies of the market at Pontoise.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.612-13, reproduced p.612

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