The Marne at Chennevières by Camille Pissarro

The Banks of the Marne at Chennevieres by Pissarro (1864)

The painting featured in My Daily Art Display can be found in Edinburgh at the National Gallery of Scotland.  It is entitled The Marne at Chennevières and is an oil on canvas  painting completed in 1864 by Camille Pissarro.

Pissarro, a French Impressionist painter, was born Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro in 1830  in the small port town of Charlotte Amalie on the Carribean Island of St Thomas in the Danish West Indies.  His father, Abraham Gabriel Pissarro, of French-Sephardic Jewish descent and his mother Rachel Manzano-Pomié, a Creole from the Dominican Republic ran a flourishing general store in the Danish West Indies.  At the age of 12, Pissarro was sent to a French boarding school in Paris where he started to become interested in art.  He remained there until 1847 when he returned to the Caribbean to help his parents with the running of the shop.  He soon became bored with this humdrum life and wanted to concentrate on his true love, art.  However his parents did not support his ambition.   Whilst sketching locally at the busy port he met Fritz Melbye a Danish painter who had come to the island from Copenhagen in the hopes of becoming a marine artist.  It was he who inspired Pissarro to develop into a full time professional painter and Melbye became not only a close friend to Pissarro but his art teacher.  Pissarro, having no support for his desire to become a full time artist, ran away to Venezuela with Melbye in 1852 where they lived for three years.  In 1855, after his parents pledged to support his artistic ambitions, he returned home and later went to Paris to continue his artistic studies in the likes of École des Beaux-Arts and Académie Suisse and studied under Corot and Courbet.

During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and 1871 Pissarro had to flee to London from his home in Louveciennes, a western suburb of Paris.  Sadly, a number of his paintings were destroyed by the invading Pruissian soldiers.  He remained in London until 1890 but returned to visit the English capital on a number of occasions and painted many local scenes.

Pissarro died in Paris in 1913 aged 73 and his grave can be found in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Strong blues, greens and whites dominate this painting of the River Marne and its banks as it meanders passed the town of Chennevières.   Chennevières’ church and houses are just visible at the top of the right bank. Paintings by Daubigny and Corot inspired Pissarro’s carefully structured composition and Courbet’s work influenced his extensive use of a palette knife. The small factory buildings and ferry boat add a contemporary note. The painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1865.