Saturday, January 2, 2010

Letter from Pissarro on his eyesight written this day over a century ago

Camille Pissarro's Letters to his son Lucien are a great treasure. Opening to this date I read:

Paris, January 2, 1891
My dear Lucien,
I have a real problem now; my eye has swollen in this intense cold and threatens to abscess. I shall have to go see Dr. Parenteau, and to stop running around...Durand didn't want my small canvases simply because they were in my last style. He says that an artist should only have one style. [Durand was the art dealer who more than any other discovered impressionism and kept the wolf from the door for Monet and others]

Many of the impressionists suffered problems with their eyes. Pissarro suffered chronic infection of the tear sac in his right eye for the last 15 years of his life and had difficulty painting outside, particularly in winter. His late cityscapes were painted from behind a glass window. We know of course about Monet's terrible cataracts, and I will go into that and how it affected his work in a later blog; also the bad eye problems of Degas and Mary Cassatt.

This photograph is of Pissarro in his older years. I would give a great deal to know him, live in his village and greeting him in passing every morning. I do so love him!

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