Between 1897, Camille Pissarro began a series of paintings of the great boulevards of Paris. In February 1897, he painted fourteen views including one of Boulevard Montmartre: Afternoon Sunshine. This artwork captures the lively character of the urban scene in vibrant colors that bring the hustle and bustle of Paris to life. The title suggests that rainy weather was present during its creation, as the artist manages to capture light filtering through wet street lamps and softly dripping rain. It is easy to imagine the feeling of being immersed in a lively city day watching pedestrians walk through Avenue de l’Opera with their umbrellas open.
This piece is an oil painting on canvas located in various museums around the world and is considered part of urban landscape painting genre. In this artwork, Pissarro was able to capture beautiful lighting effects and lifelike textures to bring ordinary events into contrastive scenes. The many differences between this work and its successors make this an invaluable artwork for studying impressionism in Europe at the turn of 19th century.
Pissarro’s artistry continued with another notable piece – Boulevard Montmartre: Night – which showcases a nocturnal view of Paris enhanced by streetscapes decorated with couture clothing shops, theaters, restaurants and cafes among other attractions along the thoroughfare. This work is an impressive magnetism composition that captures light and shadows forming silhouettes along the boulevard of Montmartre. Although dated later than his other works on Paris, it shows how much he has grown as an artist and his understanding in displaying different levels of perspective between daytime-lighted streets from those lit up at night with innovative use of neutral colors.