Autumn, Poplars, Éragny (Automne, Peupliers, Éragny)

1894

Object

Artist

Camille Pissarro, French, 1830-1903

Object Info

Object: painting
Not currently on view
Object ID: F1D95A0C-A8EF-414F-A879-918E5E54937F

Medium/Technique

Oil on canvas

Credit

Funds from Helen Dill bequest

About

About the Artist

Camille Pissarro was born on the island of St. Thomas in the West Indies (Virgin Islands, when the island was still a territory of Denmark), where he spent most of his formative years. Pissarro was an artistic youth and spent much of his time drawing and painting. He moved to Paris in 1855, began his art studies, and joined a group of young painters who later became known as the Impressionists. Impressionist artists used bright colors, painted everyday scenes, and left their brushstrokes broken and visible—techniques that challenged the rules of academic painting at the time. Most Impressionists were not allowed to show their works at the Salon, the official French art exhibition, because of their unconventional approaches to painting. In response to their exclusion, Pissarro organized an exhibition of Impressionist paintings in 1874. A total of eight Impressionist exhibitions were organized after 1874 and Pissarro was the only artist in the group to show his work at all of them. He is considered by many to be the central figure of the Impressionists. In his time, Pissarro saw the Impressionist style move from being unconventional and rejected to favorable and admired.

What Inspired It

Pissarro painted Autumn Poplars from the window of his country home in the village of Eragny, about an hour northwest of Paris. He loved painting outdoors and even invented an easel on wheels to help him accomplish this. Pissarro was an innovative artist, constantly searching for new means of expression; his style was always evolving. In this painting, Pissarro experimented with color, painting dots of pure, unmixed colors side by side. When viewed from a distance, the colors blend together, creating an image that is very different than what one would see close-up. He began experimenting with this technique after meeting French painter Georges Seurat [sur-AHT], who is known for this style of painting. Pissarro put his own twist on Seurat’s tight, tiny dot technique by using looser brushstrokes that appear more like dabs of paint.

Pissarro and the Impressionists had liberated themselves from the constraints of subject matter, composition, and style. Impressionists were breaking boundaries and exploring new ways to depict the world through painting. In light of their work, new possibilities opened up—among them what colors to use, what subjects to portray, and even how to paint them. Pissarro explored and experimented with these new possibilities throughout his career.

Subject Matter
Subject Matter

Pissarro, like most Impressionists, was interested in scenes from ordinary life and the effects of light. In this painting, there are no people, just several poplar trees in their rich autumn colors. Don’t miss the grazing cows in the background between the trees.

Color, Light, and Shadow
Color, Light, and Shadow

Many different colors can be seen in this painting: yellow, green, pink, red, black, and blue. Light shines from behind the trees, causing shadows to be cast, which were painted in a darker green, across the grass. Leaves that have fallen off the smaller tree in the foreground dot the green grass.

Brushstrokes
Brushstrokes

If you look closely at this painting, it’s easy to see thousands of small dots or dabs of paint. When viewed from a distance, the colors begin to blend into one another, creating a more recognizable image.

Teaching Resources

Quick Classroom Ideas

  • Pissarro would not always mix his paints; he would utilized “optical mixing” by creating small areas of separate color which the eye would mix together when at a proper distance. Have students try to execute the technique in paint themselves.
  • The Impressionists were inspired by nature, interested in depicting sunlight and did most of their painting outside. Have the class step into the shoes of the Impressionists and take it outside for your next painting projects. Make sure the students are prepared to discuss the role of nature and light during the critique. It would also be interesting to have the class discuss the difficulties that they encountered while working outside.
  • Camille Corot, one of Pissarro’s greatest inspirations, once said, “Everything is beautiful, the whole thing is knowing how to interpret.” Have each student find an ordinary or “boring” object that they can bring into class. Place them all into a large box and have the students then blindly choose an object. Challenge the students to create an appealing composition using their ordinary object as the central focus. Try this with photography, painting, drawing, or get creative.
  • A Poem from a Painting
    Lesson Plan

    A Poem from a Painting

    Early childhood (ages 3-5)
    One 30 minute lesson

    After imagining themselves in the meadow in Pissarro’s Autumn Poplars, children will call up words the setting evokes. Using these words, the teacher will help the children write a poem that captures their thoughts, feelings, and sensory imaginings.

    More
  • Season-ings
    Lesson Plan

    Season-ings

    Early childhood (ages 3-5)
    One 45 minute lesson

    Students will play matching games about the seasons of the year, take a nature walk, and create a class painting of trees using Pissarro’s painting as inspiration.

    More
  • A Moment in Time
    Lesson Plan

    A Moment in Time

    Secondary (grades 6-12)
    Two 45 minute lessons

    Students will gain an appreciation of Camille Pissarro’s painting Autumn Poplars and the innovative style of the Impressionists through sketching and painting a moment in time.

    More
  • A View of Fall from an Artist’s Eye
    Lesson Plan

    A View of Fall from an Artist’s Eye

    Elementary (grades K-5)
    One 45 minute lesson

    Students will gain an understanding of the depiction of fall through an artist’s eyes while examining Pissarro’s painting Autumn Poplars. Using the painting as their inspiration they will create a poem depicting fall.

    More
  • Falling Leaves
    Lesson Plan

    Falling Leaves

    Early childhood (ages 3-5)
    One 40 minute lesson

    Students will examine the artistic characteristics of Autumn Poplars, identify regions of the world where leaves turn different colors in autumn, examine the texture and appearance of different kinds of leaves, and imitate the motion of falling leaves.

    More
  • Looking Through Our Windows
    Lesson Plan

    Looking Through Our Windows

    Elementary (grades K-5)
    One 50 minute lesson

    Students will examine the artistic characteristics of Autumn Poplars; create a drawing or painting featuring a view from one of the windows in their classroom, school, or home; and then make inferences about the geography, climate, and human activities of their environment and community

    More

Funding for object education resources provided by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Education Programs, and Xcel Energy Foundation. We thank our colleagues at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.

The images on this page are intended for classroom use only and may not be reproduced for other reasons without the permission of the Denver Art Museum. This object may not currently be on display at the museum.