Camille Pissarro
Meadow at Éragny (Prairie à Éragny)

Gallery 16

About this work of art

Audio description of the work of art

Painted in 1886 in France, this is an oil on canvas painting, 59.4cms high by 73cms wide, full of vitality and colour.

Pissarro has lovingly and expertly rendered a bright, morning view of a meadow and a tree-lined hillside surrounding it. It is an idyllic, tranquil, French country scene of a particular style. One tree stands out in the mid-ground. The technique used here is Neo-impressionism,a disciplined network of dots and blocks of colour, instilling a sense of organisation and permanence. Colour mixing does not occur before the paint is applied, the time-consuming application of dots or dashes makes it possible to create a sophisticated, luminous effect, that from a distance, allows for depth and nuance of colour, replicating actual light conditions.

At the top of the frame is a fresh, spring sky, unbroken by clouds, created in baby blue, pastel blue, sky blue and powder blue dashes and dots. They juxtapose each another interspersed with dashes of white, beige, cream and pink. A plethora of luminous, delicate shades culminates in a crisp and hopeful sky. It is much whiter and lighter near the horizon line, close to a tree-lined crest, rising from the meadow in the foreground.

Against the organised splendour of Pisarros’s sky, the trees intricately rendered, their foliage made from a range of colours- reds, yellow, orange, rust coloured and green accentuates the sunshine cutting across a tranquil country scene, from our left. One tree is the focus, just off centre in the foreground.

Beyond the tree are A-frame, stone, farm buildings. Three buildings sit in a clearing at left casting shadows. Towards the centre, peaked rooves rise from within a cluster of light brown, yellow and green trees. Tall, light coloured conifers grow side by side, next to the dark foliage of denser, shorter trees.

Closer in, smaller shrubs form a meandering line along a fence, cutting across the image. Light green, new grass blankets the ground and these shrubs cast thin shadows onto the meadow.

In the lower half; a sprawling, flat green meadow and a lively, lush apple tree, its leaves reaching into sky. It grows at the corner of a recently furrowed field. A triangle of this field fills the bottom left of the painting, as though tilled earth continues off left beyond the frame. Troughs and diverts in the freshly turned soil are made from dashes, in light blue, dark blue, and purple. The dirt is yellowish-brown, violet and amber where it is caught in the sun’s rays.

One side of the apple tree’s trunk is yellow in the sunlight and from its branches sprout lush, fresh lime and emerald-green leaves. Its foliage is rendered in many more tones than light and dark green, there are spots of camel, burnt umber, orange and deep blue-green, depicting sunlight and shadow falling on the tree.

This healthy tree casts a patch of shadow over to our right and meters from it, rising from a generous mound of dirt and old leaves, is a smaller, wizened trunk, forking into two boughs. These are snarled sticks from which no foliage grows. To the right and disappearing out of frame, foliage of a third tree with its trunk unseen.

In the painting’s foreground is heavily applied dashes of dark green, light green, reds and pinks, blanketing the flat land.

Throughout, the artist has used blues sporadically and liberally, the whole of the country scene alive with nuanced shadow and light: bands of shimmering colour that exquisitely capture the warmth of a glowing spring day; from the cloudless blue sky above to the luxurious greens of the meadow grasses.