Camille Pissarro 1830-1903
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.

Pissarro's period of residence in England during the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune (1870-71) was fruitful.  After his return to France, he was a key instigator of the first Impressionist Exhibition in 1874, and was the only member of the group to exhibit in all eight Impressionist Exhibitions.

Pissarro was one of the most innovative of the Impressionists, always searching for new means of expression.  He was among the first to divide colors, as in his painting The Garden of Les Mathurins at Pontoise, 1876 (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City), where the sunlit path is made up of brushstrokes of pink, blue, white and yellow ochre.  Pissarro also excelled at drawing; the largest collection of his drawings is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

In the 1880s, Pissarro joined a younger generation of artists, including Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, and his own son Lucien, in adopting the Neo-Impressionist technique, which used the claims of science to support a new style of painting.  In common with many artists and writers of his day, he became a fervent anarchist.  He produced a significant attack on French bourgeois society in his album of anarchist drawings, Turpitudes Socials, 1889.

Pissarro gradually abandoned Neo-Impressionism in the 1890s, preferring a style that better enabled him to capture his sensations of nature.  While continuing to depict the landscape and peasants at his rural home in Eragny, he also embarked on a new adventure: cityscape painting.  In his portrayals of Paris, Rouen, Le Havre and Dieppe, he explored changing effects of light and weather, while expressing the dynamism of the modern city.

Camille Pissarro was actively painting up until the end of his life.  He died in Paris in 1903, age 73.

Paintings by Camille Pissarro featured on this website:

back to artists