Camille Pissarro

1830 - 1903 · France

Artist biography

Camille Pissarro was a Danish-French painter who is regarded as the “father of Impressionism”. He is known for his revelatory en-plein-air depicting urban French life and landscape inspired by the rural scenes of Realists Jean Francois Millet, Gustave Courbet, and Camille Corot and later by the British painters John Constable and William Turner.

Despite favouring rural subjects, Pissarro shared with the other Impressionists the desire to record the modern world by capturing the transient effects of light and colour with a focus on texture and chromatic value. He mentored younger generations of artists including Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin and his work greatly influenced both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

Born in 1830 in the Island of St. Thomas (part of the Danish West Indies at the time and today in the US Virgin Islands) to French-Jewish parents, Pissarro moved to Paris at the age of twelve to attend a boarding school and later decided to move there permanently. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Suisse under the guidance of masters such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, and Charles-Francois Daubigny and became friends with a number of younger artists, including Claude Monet, Armand Guillaumin and Paul Cézanne. In 1863 he participated in the historic Salon des Refusés. After a couple of years (1870-71) spent in London to escape the Franco-Prussian war, Pissarro went back to France and settled in Pontois together with his wife Julie Vellay. He soon reconnected with his artist friends and established a collective of fifteen called the "Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs" (today better known with the name of Impressionists) intending to offer an alternative to the Salon, the official Académie des Beaux-Arts show. He was the only artist, along with Edgar Degas, to take part in all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886. In his later life, his friends Paul Signac and Georges Seurat encouraged him to explore the techniques of Pointillism and Neo-Impressionism but, after a time, he went back to working in the Impressionist style. Pissarro died in Eragny-sur-Epte in 1903. His works are part of prestigious collections across the globe, including the National Gallery in London, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Camille Pissarro

  • Exhibitions 5

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