The artist was probably influenced by Monet's series of paintings that he was was producing during that period and the earlier Manet Urban scenes. From this series that Pissaro produced, the Boulevard Montmartre is the only night scene, and it's a masterful interpretation of the amazing play of lights on wet, dark streets. During his lifetime, Pissarro did not display or sign it. See also the contributions from Caillebotte's paintings.

Details of the Painting

Boulevard Montmartre at Night displays the busy Parisian boulevard, but at night right after a downpour. The work gave the Danish-French artist the opportunity of studying the new electric street lamps' effect as they are aligned at the street as well as the orange glow of those gas lights seen in the windows. He tried to represent the various effects that artificial lights have in different colours: bluish and pale as well as intense.

Abstract vertical shapes in the painting represent the crowds moving under the trees and beyond the shops. On one side of this road, there is a series of carriages that are lined and the lights are on, waiting for the exit of the guests who were at the show that took place at the Moulin Rouge, which is located just around the corner. The sky is dark and misty, and the clouds are seen hanging in the air. But stars that are seen in the sky (the small sketches of white), show that the clouds are going to pass soon.

The artist produced a series of the same scene and view, but in different climatic conditions, at different hours of the day. Pissaro painted this perspective while he was at his window and this led to a series of paintings from the top of the road Boulevard Montmartre. Pissaro was very impressed because he could see down the entire length of this road and he also had a bird’s-eye view of omnibuses, carriages and people between big trees and huge houses that had to be set straight.

Techniques Used

As with the entire fourteen series of paintings, the strong central shape of this receding boulevard, which is flanked by impressive buildings and rows of trees, dictates the simple and powerful composition plus perspective, given intensity by the high viewpoint. Pissaro used strong brushstrokes on the roads and sky to draw the viewer's eye down the busy street. Sketchily painted carriages and figures, like blurred photographs, add a bustling movement. However, the effect of the pearly winter sun spread through mist has made this view calmer when compared to the others. The artist used a broad pointillism in most places like on the road surface.

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night Camille Pissarro