Pissarro was one of the most influential artists and the oldest member of the Impressionist group. His contribution to the Impressionist movement was only one of his greatest deeds. His daring techniques and innovative approaches to painting led the Post-Impressionist campaign and inspired essential and influential artists like Cézanne. He mentored Cézanne for an extended period. Most of the Modernists considered Cézanne, a father to the movement, and we can assume the change started when Pissarro started innovating and creating new approaches to art.
Among his unquestionable skills, one of his most impressive abilities would be to capture the subtle changes within the lighting during a particular hour of the day or a different season of the year. He went beyond showing the volume or shape of the objects through using light and shadow, but he transmitted emotion and atmosphere.
This painting is significant, and Pissarro would live in Pontoise two years after painting it. This event happened when France had an unusually harsh winter, and the streets were covered in snow as the population struggled to deal with such a bleak cold.
This painting shows this tiny dirt road going down the hill. There are several people on the street. It’s possible to see their struggle as they clean the snow from the sidewalk and the streets, as these people were not used to this weather condition.
The thick brushwork on the street, along with the different patches of color alternating between the light earthy tone from the background and some dark brown squares, create this idea of a wet dirt road jammed by snow and dirt.
It’s possible to see a few dark brown wagons. Light yellow and beige paint cover the walls of the houses, a very classical architectural style of the time in the countryside of France. Other characteristics that mark this time are the triangular pointy rooftops and the several chimneys of the constructions.
The horizon on the back is covered in white snow. The sky is also white and grey, so there is this evident idea that winter is peaking, and likely, there will be more snow.
It is interesting to compare the color palette among the paintings Pissarro produced. As he used very similar subject matters, we can analyze and point out the differences in the lighting and color for the chosen time of the day or season of the year.
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