Camille Pissarro
1830 - 1903

An excellent teacher, he counted among his pupils and associates the French painters Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne, his son Lucien Pissarro, and the American impressionist Mary Cassatt. His friendship and support provided encouragement for many younger painters.

A painter of sunshine and the scintillating play of light, Pissarro produced many quiet rural landscapes and river scenes. He also painted street scenes in Paris, Le Havre, and London. Of Pissarro's great output (including paintings, watercolors, and graphics), many works hang in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, and in the leading galleries of Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, has his Bather in the Woods (1895).

Pissarro was born in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, and moved to Paris in 1855, where he studied with the French landscape painter Camille Corot. At first associated with the Barbizon school, Pissarro subsequently joined the impressionists and was represented in all their exhibitions. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), he lived in England and made a study of English art, particularly the landscapes of Joseph Mallord William Turner. For a time in the 1880s Pissarro, discouraged with his work, experimented with pointillism (see Neoimpressionism); the new style, however, proved unpopular with collectors and dealers, and he returned to what he found to be a freer impressionist style.

Sources: Encarta 1999 Encyclopedia.

In 1869 Pissarro moved from Pontoise to Louveciennes, on the outskirts of Paris. After the outbreak of war in 1870, as the victorious Prussians advanced, he removed his family from danger, first to Brittany and later to London. While he was away, the Prussians took over his house and, rather than splash their uniforms with French country mud, put down Pissarro's stored paintings as duckboards and tramped over them. According to Pissarro's own estimate, no more than 40 paintings survived out of 1,500. In this respect, at least, Pissarro would have suffered less if his paintings had sold more readily and been dispersed. As it is, he is known primarily for his work affer 1869. Fortunately he had not yet reached his most creative period.

Source: A Treasury of Impressionism; Nathaniel Harris; Crescent Books

Impressionism Gallery