Camille Pissarro 1830-1903 BACK

A French Impressionist painter, born in St Thomas, Dutch East Indies, but educated in Paris. He worked under Corot and at the Academy Suisse where he met Manet, Monet and probably Courbet and Cezanne. Corot advised him to paint small sketches before nature and above all to 'study light and tonal values: execution and colour simply add charm to the picture. His early landscapes were highly praised by Zola, Castagnary, and other critics but received little public recognition; Pissarro earned his living painting decorative blinds and fans. From the late 1860s he was a major figure of the Impressionist circle: he alone exhibited at all 8 exhibitions (1874-86) which he largely organized. Despite great poverty he refused to seek Salon recognition.

Influential as a teacher to Cezanne and Gauguin- he was himself open to changing influences. In the 1880s, dissatisfied with his own technique, he imitated Seurat's Divisionist manner and his series of paintings of the single motifs under changing conditions were directly inspired by Monet. Despite this, his work is remarkable for its consistency. His paintings differ from those of the other Impressionists in two major respects. Firstly the Pontoise paintings particularly, e.g. Cote du Jallais (1867) are more carefully composed with a high horizon, controlled recession and dense colour areas. These are the paintings that influenced Cezanne, who worked with Pissarro at Pontoise at intervals (1872-7). Secondly his landscape, as well as being a direct observation of certain conditions, was always inhabited. He admired Millet and Daumier and shared their respect for the working man. There are often strong socialist undertones in his letters.

An excerpt from Pissarro by Patricia Seligman:
Pissarro returned to Louveciennes to find that, during his absence, his home had been requisitioned as a slaughterhouse and his canvases torn from their stretchers and spread over the muddy ground in the garden to protect Prussian uniforms. After this desecration, they were thrown out onto the manure heap, where Pissarro found them. Only forty out of 1500 paintings covering twenty year's work remained, apart from the few he had sold, a tragedy which makes it difficult to assess his artistic progress up to this date. What remain are primarily landscapes in the Corot style - undoubtedly his more popular works. Most important among the casualties were his early paintings - documenting the birth of Impressionism, such as those painted in 1869 at La Grenouillere with Monet and Renoir. Also lost were no doubt his more informal paintings, portraits of his family and flower studies similar to his Pink Peonies of 1873 nd Mme Pissarro Sewing Near a Window of 1879

But Pissarro quickly settled back into his former way of life, centred around his family, his work and his friends. Soon he was embroiled in discussions with his artist friends, including Monet, Manet, Renoir and Degas, on ways of providing an alternative to the Salon, which would enable them to exhibit and sell their work. In 1873 the Societe Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs was set up as a joint stock company with fifteen artists with equal rights: Pissarro based the charter on the contract of the Pontoise bakers' union. His involvement in this group of artists is regarded as pivotal. Although he did not have the personal magnetism or the high-flying ideas of Monet, who could be seen as the guiding force, his well-respected strength and honesty did much to get things organized and hold the group together. The sombre self-portrait painted at this time shows a man with a prematurely grey beard, looking somewhat older than his forty-three years: it is little wonder that the group regarded him as a wise elder and father figure.

Chronology Method

Image List

Road, Winter, Sun and Snow, 1869

Fox Hill Upper Norwood, 1870

The Lock on the Seine at Bougival, 1871

The Seine at Port Marly, 1872

The Wash House, Bougival, 1872

Hoarfrost, 1873

Self Portrait 1873

Haystack, 1873

Piette's House at Montfoucault, 1874

Snow at Montfoucault, 1874

Harvest at Montfoucault, 1876

Vegetable Garden and Trees in Flower; Spring, Pontoise, 1877

Rabbit Warren at Pontoise, 1879

Snow Effect at Eragny, 1885

La Ronde, 1892

Autumn Morning at Eragny, 1897

Portrait of Jeanne, 1898

Artist's Garden at Eragny, 1898

Still Life with Spanish Peppers, 1899

Self Portrait, 1900

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This listing of artists is not official. It is merely intended to group the artists in an easy to navigate format.

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