Modern and Contemporary Art
The Vieux-Moulin in Knokke
This is one of 14 paintings Pissarro created between July and September of 1894, in the Belgian coastal town of Knokke; in two of them, appears the Old Windmill.
The small human figures blend into the landscape and become an integral part of it. Nonetheless, they are clearly depicted, and the nature of their occupations can be identified. Pissarro, who saw agricultural life as an expression of man’s perfect unity with nature, refrained from depicting peasants as toilworn or pitiable people. During this period, an idealistic perception of the peasant and his work was an important element of anarchist-communist ideology, with which Pissarro identified.
In fact, Pissarro’s political allegiances caused him to prolong his stay in Belgium following the assassination of the French president by an Italian anarchist, in late June 1894. At this time, the French police began a wave of investigations and arrests among people associated with the anarchist movement, including some of Pissarro’s colleagues. The artist therefore decided to wait until the political tension in France subsided.
From a stylistic point of view, the 1890s were a period during which Pissarro sought a way to combine the mechanical character of Divisionism with the freshness and spontaneity of Impressionism.
Pissarro did not complete all the works he painted in the Belgian resort town, and this is one of the compositions he reworked and re-dated in 1902.