About This Artwork

Camille Pissarro
French, 1830-1903

The Crystal Palace, 1871

Oil on canvas
19 x 29 in. (47.2 x 73.5 cm)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. B. E. Bensinger, 1972.1164

Camille Pissarro and his family left France in 1870–71 to escape the Prussian invasion and subsequent civil uprising (known as the Commune). They spent these years in Lower Norwood, outside London. In the neighboring town of Sydenham, Pissarro painted the glass-and-iron Crystal Palace, which was originally designed by Joseph Paxton in 1851 for London’s Hyde Park. Although it was immediately acclaimed for its modern architecture, only two years later the building was dismantled and reassembled in Sydenham. (It was destroyed by fire in 1936.) In this small oil painting, Pissarro relegated what was considered the world’s largest building to the left side of the canvas, as if to give equal space to the “modern-life” scene of families and carriages parading by Sydenham’s more recently constructed middle-class homes.

— Permanent collection label

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