RURAL MARKETS

Pissarro’s utopian scenes of communal rural labor express his vision of a post-capitalist economy. By the mid-1880s, he had extended his repertoire of subjects to include scenes of small-town and rural markets, where the product of that labor is exchanged in the community. For Pissarro and other anarchists of the period, the “ideal market” was agricultural: producers sold their fresh, locally produced food at a fair price directly to the consumers. These markets were the opposite of government controlled urban markets (such as Les Halles, the central food market in Paris). Pissarro’s many images of marketplaces, in a full range of media, offer a panorama of specific sights, odors, and sounds. His compositions are invariably jammed with people, almost always women, who during this period were largely responsible for shopping and preparing meals. They chat, jostle, bargain, call out, and gossip in an endless variety of poses and groupings.

"The Marketplace," 1882. Gouache on paper, 31 3/4 x 25 1/2 in. (80.6 x 64.8 cm). Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Private collection, L.1984.54.1, PV 1361.

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