If we were beetles in Camille Pissarro’s wide pea field, then the greenery of the plants would be whirring around our ears in soft flakes. The leaves, stems, peas, pods, weeds, sticks, and stones, but also other beetles, insects, snails, small rodents, and everything else that crawls or flies close to the Earth. We would be surrounded by a green jungle with the softness of cotton wool, like shimmering foam, a swarm of tiny particles, a chameleon-like, multifarious cloud.
Seen from a distance—the “normal” way of viewing a picture—we look upon a flicker and a shimmer spread out across the Earth like a loose carpet. One might almost call it a nonrepresentational, mosaic-like flood. It is as if the peas and all the green elements were permeated by a mysterious energy. Nothing is still or constant—everything is in motion, in a state of awakening and upheaval. It is as if this were not greenery, but swarms of agitated insects, dancing in the last light of the sinking sun as if there were to be no morning. This bustle, however, also extends to the clothing, faces, and hands of the women who are working themselves ragged, bending down uncomfortably to collect the fruits of the field. It also extends to the fields further to the rear, the rows of trees, the hills, and the mountains, which transition almost seamlessly into a vibrant, light-saturated sky.
To the magic of this all-embracing, intricate movement is added the warmth of the sunlight, which is already giving the women long shadows. It may be that the approaching end of day is once again eking out their last strength. The yellow color values suggest the end of the working day, and this is reflected in the person on the left, who has filled her basket and plainly wishes to leave. This leaves only the beetles and the insects, which — in accordance with their habits—will not cease to eagerly comb the field, reinforced by other crawling things arriving with the approaching evening and by still others arriving with the slowly encroaching night.
Markus Stegmann in: «Herzkammer», Museum Langmatt 2020