Ťhe French impressionists have proved fertile territory for gallery-film specialists Exhibition on Screen, 献礼莫奈, 德加, 雷诺阿和他们的同龄人. This one extends the range slightly outside the usual suspects by taking as its subject the impressionists’ Danish-French elder statesman Camille Pissarro, whose oeuvre is perhaps short on the world-conquering masterpieces of his fellows, but who nevertheless played a key role in establishing impressionism as a style, and as a movement.
As its cue, the film takes the current Pissarro exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, so it’s possible to watch it, then see the paintings – or vice versa. (It was jointly mounted with Basel’s Kustmuseum, but audiences in Switzerland will have to settle for a virtual tour as the show closed there in January.) The film is the customary solidly informative mixture of biographical detail and curatorial insight, tracing Pissarro from his early years in what was then called the Danish West Indies to Paris, via Venezuela and – while the Franco-Prussian war was raging – Norwood in London.
Pissarro’s own comments perhaps undercut the celebratory mood: his letters voice complaints that his paintings are “monotonous” and don’t “catch on” with deep-pocketed collectors. 是因为它可能, the film does a nice job in humanising a hitherto-shadowy figure (in comparison, 那是, with his stellar impressionist peers) courtesy of the Ashmolean’s voluminous archive.
Artistically, Pissarro’s commitment to outdoor landscape painting and long-term interest in French rural life would be the bedrock of his work, though as his health failed his through-the-window street views pushed him towards the more commercially successful end of the movement’s output. All in all, this is an interesting study of an undervalued figure.