Pissarro, "Gelée blanche (Hoarfrost)"

1873
Oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 36 5/8 in. (65 x 93 cm)
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

"Then, very quietly, with my most naive air, I led him before the Ploughed Field of M. Pissarro. At the sight of this astounding landscape, the good man thought that the lenses of his spectacles were dirty. He wiped them carefully and replaced them on his nose.

'By Michalon!' he cried. 'What on earth is that?'

"You see . . . a hoarfrost on deeply ploughed furrows."

'Those furrows? That frost? But they are palette-scrapings placed uniformly on a dirty canvas. It has neither head nor tail, top nor bottom, front nor back.'

"Perhaps . . . but the impression is there."

'Well, it's a funny impression!' "

Louis Leroy, Le Charivari, 25 April 1874

"One effect of Gelée blanche, by Pissarro, reminds us of Millet's best themes. We believe that he intentionally eliminates shadows, even though he merely selects those sunless, gently luminous days that leave the tones all their color values and soften planes. What we must demand is more precisely defined relief in the branches and tree trunks."
[Philippe Burty], La Republique Francaise, 25 April 1874

"Pissarro is sober and strong. His synthesizing eye embraces at a glance the whole scene. He commits the grave error of painting fields (Gelée blanche) with shadows cast by trees placed outside the frame. As a result the viewer is left to suppose they exist, as he cannot see them."
[Jules-Antoine] Castagnary, Le Siecle, 29 April 1874