Where: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
“What interests me most is the subject,” says Simon Kelly, associate curator of European painting and sculpture of the home of Maria Deraismes, a prominent author and political figure in 1860s France who fought for women’s rights.
“The ideas she was fighting for put her at the forefront of early feminism,” he says.
Deraismes is also thought to be the woman gazing into the glass ball. She and Pissarro were friends, and Pissarro, too, was very forward-thinking politically. It is an unusual painting in Pissarro’s repertoire, as he is mainly known for painting the peasants and laborers of the French countryside.
The Garden of Les Mathurins at Pontoise was painted in 1876 and shown a year later at the Third Impressionist Exhibition in Paris. Importantly, Pissarro holds the distinction of being the only artist to exhibit at all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions. More broadly, the painting is considered important for its successful use of color and light, and because it reflects Pissarro’s overt political interests.
“It’s a formal painting, but with lively brushwork and beautiful complementary colors,” says Kelly. “It is one of a strong group of Pissarros on display right now, three of which are hanging next to each other in the same gallery,” he says.
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