Pissarro, Camille

Camille Pissarro was considered one of the foremost painters of the Impressionist school. He is often regarded as the ‘father’ of the movement and was the only painter to exhibit in all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions held between 1874 and 1886. One of the most influential painters of the 19th century, Pissarro’s work inspired a wide sphere of exemplary artists such as Cassat, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Degas. Indeed, careful examination of his oeuvre is crucial to one’s understanding of both Impressionism and the evolution of modern art. His paintings can be found in many of the foremost museum and private collections.

Pissarro’s first artistic inclinations surfaced while he was a schoolboy at Passy, near Paris, but he was essentially self-taught. Cezanne once remarked: “Pissarro had the good fortune to be born in the Antilles. There he learnt to draw without masters.” Eventually, he attended classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1856) and the Academie Suisse (1859), where he met Monet, Cezanne, and Armand Guillaumin. For several years thereafter Pissarro participated (with intermittent success) in the annual salons, until in 1874, he helped to organize the pivotal First Impressionist Exhibition.

Pissarro’s initial Impressionist works from the 1870s feature firmly controlled compositions, lighter brushwork and the use of a bright palette applied in separate patches of unmixed pigments. At this time, he was particularly fond of rural and nature themes and was said to have been consciously emulating Millet. By the 1880s, Pissarro devised more complex canvases with numerous figures and began exploring pointillism following an introduction to Signac and Seurat. In the last decade of his life, Pissarro melded his earlier pointillist method with a purer Impressionist style of loose brushstrokes.

Museum Collections Include:
Musee du Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musee d’Orsay, Paris; Guggenheim Museum, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Neue Pinakothek, Munich; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Clark Art Institute, Williamstown; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Frick Collection, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.