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Pen and black ink and brush and gray wash over graphite heightened with white gouache
Sheet: 15.1 x 10.2 cm (5 15/16 x 4 in.)
Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1927.298
Unlike Cassatt and Degas, Pissarro eschewed the city and the bourgeoisie for much of his career, instead making the countryside and its inhabitants the subject of his art. His marriage in 1871 to Julie Vellay, the daughter of poor peasants, and their life of financial struggle with eight children in the small village of Pontoise, made him sympathetic to the hardships of rural life. He frequently depicted women sewing, often outdoors, or seated beside a window, as seen here. The effect of natural light illuminating his subject, as indicated by the notation "lumière" at the left margin of the drawing, was an essential aspect of Pissarro’s Impressionist style. The quiet solitude of his peasant working close to nature makes an interesting comparison with Cassatt’s Knitting in the Library, a portrait of her bespectacled, well-to-do mother in a comfortably appointed interior.
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