Laundresses on the Banks of the Oise at Pontoise (c.1880 – c.1881) by Camille Pissarro

Laundresses on the Banks of the Oise at Pontoise - Camille Pissarro - c.1880 - c.1881

Artwork Information

TitleLaundresses on the Banks of the Oise at Pontoise
ArtistCamille Pissarro
Datec.1880 - c.1881
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Laundresses on the Banks of the Oise at Pontoise

The artwork “Laundresses on the Banks of the Oise at Pontoise” is a creation by Camille Pissarro, dating from circa 1880 to 1881. It represents the Impressionist movement, a style characterized by small, thin brush strokes, an emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities, and the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience. This genre painting, which depicts scenes of everyday life, is part of a private collection.

In the artwork, we can observe a pastoral scene set on the banks of the Oise river, near the town of Pontoise. The composition features several figures engaged in the task of washing clothes by the water’s edge. On the left side of the artwork, two women, one with a red headscarf and the other with a blonde hair, are sitting, working together by the riverbank, likely beating or rinsing garments in the water. Their postures and the placement of the laundry baskets suggest a moment of industrious activity amid a tranquil environment.

To the far right, another figure, presumably a woman, is depicted in mid-motion, walking away from the viewer along the riverbank, with her back turned. She carries what seems to be a bundle of laundry, indicating her participation in the day’s work. This figure leads the observer’s gaze into the background, where a boat is moored on the river and additional structures, possibly houses, dot the opposite bank, nestled among the trees.

The artwork’s palette is suffused with naturalistic tones, reflecting Pissarro’s interest in the effects of light on the landscape. The luminosity of the scene is typical of the Impressionist treatment of outdoor settings, capturing the transient effects of sunlight. The fan-like, wide format of the artwork is somewhat unusual, providing a panoramic view of the scene and enhancing the sense of openness and immersion in nature. Overall, Pissarro’s depiction of these laundresses in a serene, rural setting is imbued with the sensibility and aesthetic of the Impressionist movement, offering a snapshot of the rhythms of everyday rural life in the late 19th century.

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