Two Young Peasant Women

Camille Pissarro (French, Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas 1830–1903 Paris)

Oil on canvas
35 1/4 x 45 7/8 in. (89.5 x 116.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1973
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Pissarro began this picture in summer 1891 and completed it in mid-January 1892, a month before the opening of a major exhibition of his work organized by his dealer Joseph Durand-Ruel. Many of the fifty paintings were sold from the show, but Pissarro kept this canvas and gave it to his wife.

    By virtue of their size, placement, and quiet dignity, these youthful laborers dominate the landscape setting—an open field near the artist's house at Éragny. Sympathetic to anarchist ideals, Pissarro wanted to preserve the values of agrarian society that were being threatened by the rapid industrialization of France.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): C.Pissarro.1892

  • Provenance

    Mme Camille (Julie Vellay) Pissarro, Eragny and Paris (1892–d. 1928; gift of the artist, her sale, Georges Petit, Paris, December 3, no. 25, as "La causette" for Fr 173,000 to Rosenberg); [Paul Rosenberg, Paris, from 1928]; private collection, ?Paris (in 1930); baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris (by 1933–52; sold to Rosenberg & Stiebel); [Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, 1952; sold to Wrightsman]; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1952–73)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Galeries Durand-Ruel. "Exposition Camille Pissarro," January 23–February 20, 1892, no. 50 (as "Deux jeunes paysannes").

    Paris. Galeries Durand-Ruel. "L'œuvre de Camille Pissarro," April 7–30, 1904, no. 84 (as "La Causette," lent by Mme Vve Pissarro).

    Paris. Galerie Manzi, Joyant. "Exposition rétrospective d'œuvres de Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)," January 26–February 14, 1914, no. 4 (as "La Causette").

    Paris. Galerie Nunès & Fiquet. "La Collection de Madame Veuve C. Pissarro," May 20–June 20, 1921, no. 29 (as "La Causette").

    Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Centenaire de la naissance de Camille Pissarro," February–March 1930, no. 81 (lent by M. X . . .).

    Paris. Galerie Beaux-Arts. "Seurat et ses amis: La suite de l'impressionnisme," December 1933–January 1934, no. 49 (lent by baron Maurice de Rothschild).

    London. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Nineteenth Century Masterpieces," May 9–June 15, 1935, no. 29 (as "The Chatterer," lent by baron Maurice de Rothschild).

    London. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Seurat and His Contemporaries," January 20–February 27, 1937, no. 26 (as "La causette").

    Amsterdam. Stedelijk Museum. "Honderd Jaar Fransche Kunst," July 2–September 25, 1938, no. 195 (lent by baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris).

    Leeds. Temple Newsam. "French Paintings of the 18th and 19th Centuries," April 6–28, 1940, no. 24 (as "La Causette").

    Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Painting," April 25–May 24, 1959, unnumbered cat. (p. 12, as "La Causette," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Wrightsman).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 1–August 20, 1961, not in catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    New York. Robert Lehman Collection. "Neo-Impressionism: The Circle of Paul Signac," October 1–December 31, 2001, no catalogue.

  • References

    A. Andrei. "Les Petits salons. Camille Pissarro." La France nouvelle (February 23, 1892), p. 2 [see Ref. Snollaerts 2005].

    Félix Fénéon. "Exposition Camille Pissarro." L'Art moderne [Brussels] (February 14, 1892), p. 55 [reprinted in Fénéon, "Œuvres plus que complètes," vol. 1, Geneva, 1970, p. 209].

    Gustave Geffroy. "Chronique artistique. L'exposition de Camille Pissarro." La Justice (February 2, 1892), p. 1 [see Ref. Snollaerts 2005].

    Camille Pissarro. Letter to M. Durand-Ruel. January 19, 1892 [published in Lionello Venturi, "Les archives de l'impressionnisme," vol. 2, Paris, 1939, pp. 33–34], lists it as no. 11 in the list of works that will be at the February 1892 exhibition at Durand-Ruel.

    Camille Pissarro. Letter to M. Joseph [Durand-Ruel]. January 13, 1892 [published in Lionello Venturi, "Les archives de l'impressionnisme," vol. 2, Paris, 1939, p. 32], lists it as no. 11 and calls it his great work, but notes that he has not finished it yet; discusses the possibility of making new frames for the three principle paintings in the show, including this one.

    Charles Saunier. "L'Art nouveau." La Revue indépendante 23 (April–June 1892), p. 38.

    Henri Pellier. "Petits salons: Camille Pissarro." La Petite république (April 14, 1904), p. 3.

    Théodore Duret. Histoire des peintres impressionistes. Paris, 1906, pp. 64–65.

    J. B. M[anson]. "The Camille Pissarro Exhibition in Paris." Outlook (February 7, 1914), p. 171, misidentifies the figure at left as male.

    Georges Lecomte. Camille Pissarro. Paris, 1922, ill. opp. p. 46.

    Théodore Duret. Die Impressionisten. Berlin, 1923, p. 86, incorrectly dates it 1882.

    Emil Waldmann. Die Kunst des Realismus und des Impressionismus im 19. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1927, pp. 88, 468, ill.

    "Les grandes ventes prochaines: La collectin Camille Pissarro." Bulletin de l'art ancien et moderne no. 753 (December 1928), pp. 410, 412, ill., comments that it illustrates Pissarro's evolution away from the influence of older artists.

    Charles Kunstler. "La collection Camille Pissarro." Le Figaro artistique no. 209 (November 29, 1928), p. 103, ill., observes that in it Pissarro returned to comma-like brushstrokes.

    Charles Kunstler. "Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)." La Renaissance no. 12 (December 1928), p. 505.

    Maurice Monda. "Revue des ventes de décembre." Le Figaro artistique 6 (January 10, 1929), p. 221, notes that it sold for Fr 173,000 to Paul Rosenberg at the Pissarro sale on December 3, 1928.

    Charles Kunstler. "À propos de l'Exposition du Musée de l'Orangerie aux Tuileries: Le Centenaire de Camille Pissarro." L'Art vivant 6 (March 1, 1930), p. 189.

    Georges Pillement. "À l'exposition de Pissarro." La Revue française (March 16, 1930), ill. p. 259.

    "Nineteenth-Century Masterpieces." Burlington Magazine 66 (June 1935), p. 297, ill. opp. p. 293.

    Ludovic Rodo Pissarro and Lionello Venturi. Camille Pissarro, son art—son œuvre. reprint ed. 1989. Paris, 1939, vol. 1, pp. 61, 192, no. 792; vol. 2, pl. 163, no. 792.

    Charles Kunstler. Pissarro: Cities and Landscapes. New York, 1967, p. 58.

    Everett Fahy in "Paintings, Drawings." The Wrightsman Collection. 5, [New York], 1973, pp. 151–57, no. 17, ill. p. 153 (color), fig. 1 (detail), notes that it was probably begun in the summer, perahaps mid-July, of 1891, since the trees are in full leaf; comments that the setting is a field near Pissarro's house at Éragny, which frequently appears in the artist's other works; discusses the style and technique, noting that it is similar to "Haymakers Resting," which is signed and dated 1891 (McNay Art Institute, San Antonio; PV773).

    Christopher Lloyd. Pissarro. New York, 1979, pp. 8–9, colorpl. 32, remarks that it "epitomizes the change of emphasis that Pissarro brought to his treatment of the human figure during the 1880s," noting that now he is more sympathetic to the figures, the models are not generalized, and that their dress and actions are closely observed and recorded.

    Richard R. Brettell and Christopher Lloyd. A Catalogue of the Drawings by Camille Pissarro in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Oxford, 1980, p. 141, reproduces a drawing in the Ashmolean's collection from the early 1880s, which Pissarro adapted ten years later for the background of this picture.

    Christopher Lloyd. Camille Pissarro. New York, 1981, p. 113, ill.

    Anne Schirrmeister. Camille Pissarro. New York, 1982, pp. 14–15, no. 12, ill. on cover (color) and colorpl. 15, remarks that this is one of Pissarro's largest and most ambitious works; notes that he never sold the painting, but bequeathed it to his wife, who kept it until her death.

    Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 92–93, ill. (color).

    John House. "Camille Pissarro's "Seated Peasant Woman": The Rhetoric of Inexpressiveness." Essays in Honor of Paul Mellon: Collector and Benefactor. Washington, 1986, pp. 162–63, 167, 170 n. 21, fig. 4.

    Richard Shiff. "The Work of Painting: Camille Pissarro and Symbolism." Apollo 136 (November 1992), pp. 309–10, fig. 2.

    T. J. Clark. Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism. New Haven, 1999, pp. 54–56, 58–59, 62–71, 82, 85–90, 99, 104–5, 107, 110, 112, 114–15, 117, 121–22, 128, 132, 414 nn. 6, 12, pp. 419–20 n. 127, colorpls. 20, 31, 46 (overall and details), discusses the work in relation to the political climate at the time and Pissarro's anarchist and socialist views, seeing the effects of anarchist politics in this work; mentions the difficulties that Pissarro encountered in finishing it; comments on the technique, use of light, and the poses of the two women.

    Impressionism to the Present: Camille Pissarro and His Descendants. Exh. cat., Museum of Art. Fort Lauderdale, 2000, pp. 14, 54, note that Christopher Lloyd considers it very possible that the seated woman is Eugenie Estruc, known as Nini, whose portrait Pissarro painted in 1884 (Richard Nathanson collection, London; PV654).

    Richard Shone. The Janice H. Levin Collection of French Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 31–32, fig. 14, notes that the posture of the standing woman is similar to Pissarro's "Peasant Woman Digging" (Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, New York; PV618) of 1883.

    Richard Shiff in Camille Pissarro. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales. Sydney, 2005, pp. 41, 43, fig. 18 (color).

    Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts in Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snollaerts. Pissarro: Critical Catalogue of Paintings. Milan, 2005, vol. 1, pp. 30, 363, 366, 370, 372, 376, 378–81, 383, 392, 394, 423; vol. 3, pp. 524, 598, 600–602, 954, 958, no. 912, ill. (color), dates it 1891–92.

    Gary Tinterow and Asher Ethan Miller in The Wrightsman Pictures. New York, 2005, pp. 426–31, no. 123, ill. (color).

    Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper. Christie's, New York. November 7, 2007, p. 38, under no. 126, fig. 1.

  • Notes

    A drawing for the seated figure appeared in 1928 in the sale of Mme Pissarro's pictures (Pissarro and Venturi no. 1593). The field in the background, near the artist's house at Eragny, is seen from the same angle in two other pictures (PV590, 1377). Pissarro probably began this picture in the summer of 1891, but, possibly because of eye trouble, did not finish it until just before the retrospective exhibition of his work at Durand-Ruel in January 1892. He considered it one of the three most important of the fifty pictures he showed at the exhibition [see Ref. Pissarro 1892].

    This is the last large canvas that Pissarro painted.

  • See also