Camille Pissarro, The Bell Tower of Bazincourt, 1885

The Work

This scene represents the village of Bazincourt-sur-Epte, in Picardy, near Éragny-sur-Epte where Pissarro lived after 1884. We see the belltower of a church, reduced to a shadowy silhouette in front of a luminous sky. The church is seen through thickets and treets, suggested by waving brushstrokes.

Historical Moment

During a period of relative peace and prosperity, France was preparing to celebrate the centennial of the beginning of the French Revolution, in 1889.

The Genre

The impressionist movement was a revolt against the academic tradition. Instead of representing objects in a realistic manner, with precise lines and perspective, artists sought to capture a moment of experience as it was lived. They left the studio to paint outdoors, and tried to re-create effects of light with soft brushstrokes and bright colors.

The Artist

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was born on the island of St. Thomas in the Antilles, which was a Danish territory at the time. His father was a French citizen of Portuguese heritage, and was a hardware merchant. As a young man, Pissarro left the family business to study art in Paris, from 1855 onward. He was a student of Corot and a friend of Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, and Monet. During his lifetime, he was never very successful, but some of his painting are viewed today as masterpieces of impressionism and pointillism.

French embassy