Camille Pissarro – “The Woods at Marley” (1871)
This painting by Camille Pissarro titled “The Woods at Marly” depicts a scene of fall harvest in a small, colorful wood. This painting is dominated by elements of nature, including trees, leaves, bushes, and dirt, which contrast the small unidentifiable people walking amongst the trees. I’ve always liked impressionist art over other modern art forms because I feel like it creates a balance between classic work and modern work. “The Woods at Marly” is no exception to the fleeting beauty conveyed in impressionist work, but the portrayal of a fall forest transcends what impressionism is to me. The color-blending and hasty brush marks of the painting stay true to the impressionist outlook on painting, but I think it carries some attention to detail that is often overlooked in art of it’s kind. Since impressionism is supposed to capture “the impression” of a situation, I think Pissarro’s piece turns the commonplace fall harvest into a scene of idyllic serenity and nostalgia that is hard to understand in the Old Master’s artwork. Even the way the trees frame the pathway drawing the viewer’s eye through the canvas towards the bright green of the outer forest creates a sense of artistic depth in which one can travel through the painting’s subject into its core, which I think is what impressionist painters want the viewer to experience. Although the impressionist artwork was seen as a silly way of painting in its time, compared to the previous works of art the way feeling can be brought through, even in something as simple as some trees, is far more developed than any biblical masterpiece. I also enjoy how the short, irregular brushstrokes stay true to the multitude of leaf shapes one sees in real life, and how the colors blend together yet stand out so distinctly when one is up close to the painting. These elements give a more realistic impression onto the painting than any old masterpiece does, as wanting to create an image as accurately as possible does not express the gestures and idiosyncrasies that come from emotion over substance. I appreciate this painting all the more in the way that it creates a lasting impression in my mind, which I think captures the essence of the impressionistic goal.