Already the Island’s go-to gallery for European as well as American Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, the Christina Gallery in Edgartown has added substantially to its collection of art from this period. New works on display include a series of 10 original lithographs by French painter Maurice Utrillo, and additions to the gallery’s already extensive holdings of oils, pastels, drawings, etchings, and charcoals by four generations of the Pissarro family.
“We’ve been developing this collection for 15 to 20 years,” said gallery owner Christina Cook. “It’s important for people to realize you can own a work of a very famous painter. We’ve kept them at a very comfortable price level.” A lot of the works on paper at the gallery, which conventionally are less costly than oil paintings, also appear at retrospectives of these artists.
Ms. Cook and her mother, Liz Cook, visit Paris in the off-season in search of new acquisitions. In the case of Maurice Utrillo, a post-Impressionist French painter famous for his renderings of Montmartre, they were able to acquire the complete series of 10 original lithographs of which the gallery had previously shown three or four. The series ranges from lively views of Montmartre’s famous church, le Sacré Coeur, and the iconic “Musée du Louvre,” to “Notre Dame de Paris, vue de la Seine,” and a winter scene titled “Moulin de la Galette.”
Over the years, the Cooks have developed a working relationship with members of the Pissarro family. Camille Pissarro, the patriarch in four generations of artists, is considered by some art historians to be the dean of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, influencing Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and August Renoir.
Pissarro suffered from the climate of anti-Semitism in France generated during the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906), a scandal in which a French artillery officer who was Jewish and Alsatian was falsely accused of treason and imprisoned. Because Pissarro was also Jewish, he avoided appearing in public during this period, often painting scenes from his window. “Café Caracas,” a pencil drawing on paper by Pissarro, is one of Christina’s new Pissarro acquisitions.
New works by five of Pissarro’s sons are also on display. An etching, “Children,” by Lucien, the oldest of the five Pissarro sons, although not new to the gallery’s inventory, has an appealingly compact composition. New to the gallery’s holdings is a striking charcoal, “Grey Cat,” by Georges Henri Manzana Pissarro, offers allusions to Asian art. Yet another strong work is the etching “Two Horses Grazing” by Felix Pissarro, who died at age 23. It represents the first work the gallery has acquired by this artist and is executed from the unusual perspective of the horses’ backsides. Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro’s “Honfleur” is an oil on canvas of sailboats moored in the port city near Le Havre.
Ludovic-Rodo’s younger brother Paul-Emile has on exhibit “Fleurs,” an oil-on-canvas still life of flowers from the daisy genus, and “Genevieve,” a powerful portrait of a seated woman dressed in green skirt and top. Camille Pissarro’s grandson H. Claude Pissarro is represented by a richly textured and colored 1935 pastel, “Le Pommier en Fleurs.” Recently sold was “La Foret d’Otilia, a pastel by Camille Pissarro’s great granddaughter Lelia.
“Some of these Pissarros are just not getting the recognition post-death that you would expect,” Ms. Cook said. As a result, their prices remain more accessible.
Other works of note in the Christina Gallery’s Post-Impressionist collection include Mary Cassatt’s “Looking into the Hand Mirror,” a dry-point etching so delicately rendered that it looks like a pencil drawing. Because dry-point etchings do not make a deep grove, fewer copies are printed. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Femme nue Assise” is a soft-ground etching, a technique that conveys the illusion of a drawing
The work by Utrillo and the Pissarro family will remain on display through September 15.
On Thursday, August 7, Christina Gallery present “An Evening with Marjorie Mason,” a new exhibit titled “Vineyard Landscapes – New Works.”
The Christina Gallery, 32 North Water St., Edgartown. For more information, visit christina.com.