How good is he? Pissarro: Father of Impressionism, at the Ashmolean Museum, reviewed

Two markers: ‘Cottages at Auvers-sur-Oise’ (c.1873) is a sweet especial rural scene of faintly slovenly thatched cottages with, at its centre, an outside privy, its door modestly shut. A discreet little detail. Second, early in the exhibition, Corot’s ‘Duck-Pond’ (1855–60), an indicator of the tradition to which Pissarro belongs — a world of unconsidered trifles, granted a quiet importance. Linda Whiteley’s excellent, informative catalogue essay quotes Pissarro on Corot: ‘Happy are those who see beauty in modest places where others see nothing. Everything is beautiful, the whole secret lies in knowing how to interpret.’ He is writing this credo to his son Lucien in 1893. Later, Cézanne described Pissarro as