The Pond at Montfoucault, 1875 by Camille Pissarro

The Pond at Montfoucault, 1875 by Camille Pissarro
Courtesy of www.diego-velazquez.org

Pissarro met Ludovic Piette in 1859 at the Academie Suisse in Paris, where both artists had enrolled in a course. Although not as well known as Pissarro, Piette exhibited regularly at the Salon in the 1860s and thirty of his paintings were shown at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1877. Piette lived at Montfoucault, a small village which lies on the border between Normandy and Brittany. He repeatedly invited Pissarro to come and stay, and as the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 it was there that Pissarro and his family had taken refuge before crossing over to England.

Pissarro also spent the summer of 1874 with Piette, recovering from the stress and disappointment caused by the first Impressionist Exhibition in May that year, and after a short spell in Paris he returned to spend the winter at Montfoucault. It was during this stay that Pissarro concentrated closely on the image of peasant rural life; he made numerous paintings of female peasants engaged in their daily routines. He wrote to Theodore Duret of this new fascination: 'I haven't worked badly here. I have been tackling figures and animals. I have several genre pictures. I am rather chary about going in for a branch of art in which first-rate artists have so distinguished themselves. It is a very bold thing to do, and I am afraid of making a complete failure of it.'

The Pond at Montfoucault is a painting from 1875 depicting a cowgirl with her herd by the same pond on Piette's property.