Those who believe impressionism viewed the world through misty idealistic glasses should ponder Pissarro's commitment to "our modern philosophy, which is absolutely social, antiauthoritarian and antimystical ... a robust art based on sensation,"- a philososphy he expressed in paint. He was a committed anarchist and believed that Impressionism was the natural way to present social progress, science and ethical behavior. He believed that natural vision was a primary value in art, achieved through a direct encounter with the "thing seen."
His paintings of the working class and peasantry of 19th century France were far from the usual contemporary genre scenes but portraits of those who he saw as active and individual forces in contemporary life. Ordinary people, rather than gods, goddess and mythological beings, were important subjects. His working men and women, albeit somewhat idealized, were were seen as harmonious with nature, productive, working, leading a fulfilling life, neither brutalized or sentimentalized.
Maid making cafe au lait.
As Robert Hughes wrote, "There has long been a tendency to repeat, without checking it against the pictures, Gauguin's irritable verdict that Pissarro was a good second-rater, "always wanting to be on top of the latest trend ... he's lost any kind of personality, and his work lacks unity." So although there has been no lack of Degas shows, Monet retrospectives, homages to Cézanne and museum tributes to Bazille or Caillebotte, Pissarro has remained less known—an irony, since, with his peculiar steadfastness and probity, he was the linchpin of the impressionist group."all images courtesy of the FAMSF.