from April 27 to September 29, 2013
Pleased with the success of his views of Rouen harbour, Pissarro now began looking for a new location. Following summer holidays in Varengeville in 1899 and Berneval in 1900, he went to Dieppe in 1901 and 1902.
For his first stay, he chose a base in the historic city centre, staying in the Hôtel du Commerce, opposite the north door of the Gothic Church of Saint Jacques. He painted nine pictures depicting the church at different times of day and the market square.
The following year, the day before he left for Dieppe he wrote, "Dieppe is an admirable place for a painter who likes life, movement and colour. I have friends there and I know what subjects I would like to paint." He now left the historic quarter for the harbour and a new set of subjects, renting a room at 7, Arcades de la Poissonnerie. From this vantage point, he could take in the landscape in one sweep, especially the Quai Duquesne, from the outer harbour and the fish market to the Duquesne harbour. "I have some very fine subjects," he wrote, "the Poissonnerie, the outer harbour, the Duquesne harbour and the Pollet quarter in rain, sunshine and smoke."
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), The Outer-Harbour of Dieppe, Afternoon, Sunny Weather, oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm. Private collection. © Westimage
The layout of the port of Dieppe, hemmed in by cliffs, offered him a fresh repertoire. Sailing ships and steam vessels mingled with cross-Channel ferries. Dieppe was a real seaport, whose docks alternately filled and emptied, providing the painter with new variations on the same subject. The railway terminus was right next to the harbour, and Pissarro devoted considerable attention to the daily tide of passengers that poured out of the trains and formed interesting groups that broke up the open spaces of the quays. As in Rouen, he sought to depict a range of atmospheric effects. The very frequent weather changes provided a rich subject matter, though the bad weather that summer made his task more difficult. "The weather here is atrocious. Luckily, I have a window overlooking the docks and can work nonetheless," he wrote, adding, "It is beautiful, though, with wonderful fleeting effects that are very hard to keep up with!"
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Inner Harbour, Dieppe, Grey Weather, Rain, 1902, oil on canvas. © Worcester Art Museum, Stoddard Acquisition Fund in memory of Mr and Mrs Robert W. Stoddard
Pissarro's second stay in Dieppe (10 July to 30 September 1902) was especially productive: he painted twenty pictures. A few days before he left, pleased with his reception and encouraged by the collector Gustave Cahen, in a rare gesture, Pissarro donated a painting, L'avant-port de Dieppe, après-midi, soleil (The Outer Harbour, Dieppe, on a Sunny Afternoon), to the town museum.
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), The Outer-Harbour of Dieppe, Afternoon, Sun, 1902, oil on canvas, 53.5 x 65 cm. Dieppe, château-musée. © Ville de Dieppe / BL Legros