The Outer Boulevards, Snow, 1879 by Camille Pissarro

The Outer Boulevards, Snow, 1879 by Camille Pissarro
Courtesy of www.diego-velazquez.org

In the 1890s Pissarro would begin a series of paintings devoted to the Parisian boulevards. This subject is therefore unusual in a work from 1879 and appears to be influenced by Claude Monet's Boulevard des Capucines, dated 1873. Although both artists depicted a similar view, with an avenue of trees on the lefthand side, the effect of each is very different. Monet's boulevard is stylish and elegant while Pissarro's is grey and miserable. Pissarro has created this effect in a number of ways. The scene is definitely a cold one. The few figures on the street are huddled in overcoats or under umbrellas, protecting themselves from the elements. The small figure in the foreground, with his head bowed and hands in his pockets, sums up the mood of the picture. Pissarro is also able to exaggerate the gloomy effect by keeping his viewpoint very close to the level of the street.

In the 1890s his viewpoint rose dramatically, giving an impressive view of his subject. Rather than glorify the streets as Claude Monet has done, and he himself was later to do, Pissarro's Outer Boulevards appears to reflect his inner feelings.