Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro biography
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Camille Pissarro biography

Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro (July 10, 1830 – November 13, 1903) was born in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, now in the US Virgin Islands, but then in the Danish West Indies. Impressionist painter. Spent much of his life in France, where he was part of the impressionist movement and schools created by other impressionist painters such as neo-impressionism.

Pissarro’s career began in the 1850s, a period in which the artist made several trips in which he would paint landscapes and scenes of everyday life. He subsequently settled in France, where he came into contact with the painters Camille Corot, Claude Monet, and Paul Cézanne, who deeply influenced his work. Between 1874 and 1886 he participated in the Impressionist exhibitions, in which the works of Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Georges Seurat, Henri Rouart, Victor Vignon, Paul Gauguin, among others were presented. His most recognized works are: Road to Versailles (1871), Peasant Houses (1887), Harvest of Apples (1888), Lacroix Island (1888), Sunset in Éragny (1890), Spring at Dawn and Cloudy (1900) and The Pilot’s Wharf in Havre (1903).

He was born into a wealthy family. His father was Abraham Gabriel Pissarro, Sephardic Jew and his mother was Rachel Manzano-Pomié, Dominican with Spanish ancestry. He attended part of his academic training in his hometown. Around 1842 he moved to Paris, where he continued his education. While living in the city he became interested in art and painting, coming into contact with the Parisian artistic environment. Years later he returned to Santo Tomas with his family, being at home he talked with his father about his interest in art and his desire to start his artistic training, but he denied him permission to study. At this time he began working in the family business while making sketches of landscapes and other scenes inspired by the island.

At the beginning of the 1850s, he accompanied the Danish painter Fritz Melbyl on his trip through Caracas, during his stay he painted landscapes and scenes of customs, shortly thereafter he returned to Santo Tomas, where he worked with his father for a short time.


Artistic career

Against the will of his father he moved to Paris in 1855, in the city he began his artistic training attending the School of Fine Arts and the Jules Suisse Academy. In these years he became friends with Camille Corot, Monet, and Cézanne, who influenced him in the first works of the young painter. By this period his paintings were of a traditional cut as it is reflected in the Marne River in Chennevières (1864) Paysage aux Pâtis (1867) and L’Hermitage à Pontoise (1867).

In the 1870s, Pissarro, Monet, and other French artists created the Impressionist art movement, a pictorial school in which the subjective impression that generated a certain scene or object was created on the canvas, emphasizing the center of the painting, which was surrounded by a luminous atmosphere. One of the most outstanding features of this school was the study of natural light.


As a member of this pictorial school, he participated in the eight Impressionist exhibitions that were held between 1876 and 1884, these exhibitions were the center of debate and revisionism of the movement, it should be noted that, due to internal differences between the exponents of this movement, on several occasions, some painters preferred not to participate and others were rejected because their paintings did not rigorously follow the foundations of impressionism. In these exhibits, the works of Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne, Vignon, Seurat, Morisot, Cassat, Degas, Forain, Rouart and Signac, among others, were exhibited. In the course of the 1880s, he became friends with the neo-impressionists Seurat and Signac, which motivated him to experiment with the pointillist technique in some of his works, although he did not rigorously follow the foundations of neo-impressionism, the influence of this school in the works: Peasant Houses (1887), Hay Harvest at Éragny (1887), Harvest of Apples (1888) and Isla Lacroix (1888). After experimenting with neo-impressionism, he returned to impressionism, painting a large number of landscapes and scenes of everyday life, themes that he frequently represented.


In 1892, the dealer Paul-Durand-Ruel organized a large exhibition of Pissarro’s work, in which he raised enough money to solve the economic problems he faced. Three years later the eye disease he suffered worsened, so he was forced to paint from the window of his home. In this period, he painted urban scenes such as Opera Avenue, rain effect (1898) and The Garden of Las Tullerias (1899), for this same period he painted Solar Light in the Snow in the Morning (1895) and The French Theater Square ( 1898). In the last years of his career, he painted: Effect of the Morning Light in Éragny (1899), The Havre Morning Harbor in the Morning (1902), The Pont Neuf (1902) and The Pilot’s Pier in Havre (1903). After the deterioration of his health, he died on November 13, 1903, in Paris.

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