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Artwork | Impressionism

Haymakers Resting, Camille Pissarro (1891)

By Moreuil Wood
February 25, 2009
Pissarro’s visible brushwork seems unconscious or unmindful of itself, composed intuitively, rather than studied, with unmixed pigments woven into folds, waves, and veils... 
Haymakers Resting
Haymakers Resting -Camille Pissarro (1891)

In Camille Pissarro’s rural images of harvesting and shepherding, sensuous color is often a gradually nuanced pool of light that mirrors the movement of wind, clouds, and fields –within which the human story is indistinguishable from the essence of light.

The light in Haymakers Resting reflects a dramatically interlacing composition of form and color which holds the threads of light and earth together. The relationship between abstract peripheral stretches of yellow field, violet hillside, blue sky, pink clouds, and jade haystacks, juxtaposed against the tangible, opaque textures of haymakers relaxing in the hay, creates a vortex of energy moving into an afternoon sun.

The color and texture of the light that moves into this space describes the camaraderie of the peasant women and allows us to interrelate with the beauty and meaning of their special relationship with the regimen of farm life. We do not so much see realistic details of their lives that express any particular message about them or of human life in general, and the perspective appears to be that one person’s labor is no more or less important than the texture of hay and the slowly settling sunlight.

The textures, folds, and fabrics reflect the mysterious power of that light. The women know the light around them, and are comfortable sitting in the cut hay, bathed in the translucent layers of the yellow-blue-violet fields and indigo-blue shadows of haystacks.

We feel the warmth of the sun on their shoulders and sense the movement of violet-blue sky, blue-green hay, red and blue fabrics, which allows direct empathy with them, as they sit in the fresh cut hay resting from their labor.

“Work at the same time on sky, water, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis…Don’t be afraid of putting on color…Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression.”  (Camille Pissarro, 1892)

The movement of color is like a fine wool yarn unraveling, suggesting a lack of restrictions, a moving toward sensuality, which is light-hearted, musical, and poetic. In the soft jostling of hay, the spinning smoke of sunlight and dust, red wool and blue cotton rolling against the blue haystack, red cheeks and pinned-up hair, are elements of this movement.  

The Artist's Garden at Eragny
The Artist's Garden at Eragny -Camille Pissarro (1898)

Pissarro’s visible brushwork seems unconscious or unmindful of itself, composed intuitively, rather than studied, with unmixed pigments woven into folds, waves, and veils, undulating on the fabric of the painting, accentuating simultaneity of color and awakening senses.

As the light moves into the sunset, an impression of timelessness in the beautiful sensation of color moves beyond the human story into the realm of spirit. This is the moment when all of history's time on earth flows backward to its source. In Pissarro’s imagination, color and light provided the essential character of the movement of time.

Haymakers Resting evokes reverie of a life gone by, images of harvesting and shepherding, sensuous color and the nature of light. The past is not over and gone, but is the dreamlike unraveling of what we are, and traces the threads of consciousness that are as allusive as color in a swirling pool of light.

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