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Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro

(1831 - 1903)
Born: St. Thomas, West Indies
Style: Impressionism
Famous Works:
  • The Cote des Boeurs at l'Hermitage, near Pontoise (1877)
  • Landscape at Chaponval (1880)
  • Avenue de l'Opera Morning Sunshine (1898)
Camille Pissarro was born and raised in the West Indies, on the island of St. Thomas, but moved to France to attend boarding school at the age of twelve. It was here that Pissarro would first begin to explore the work of the French masters. When Pissarro returned home to St. Thomas, he was forced to split time between his art and his work as a cargo clerk. The Danish marine painter, Fritz Melbye, befriended Pissarro and took him as a student. After moving to Venezuela and working with Melbye for two years, Pissarro moved to Paris. He became a key member of the Impressionist group in the city, befriending and influencing many of the pivotal painters of the time. The artist painted the outdoors exclusively, recording the landscapes he observed both in the city and, in particular, the countryside of France. Recording the movement of both light and motion across space, Pissarro sought to capture what was "real" to his eye. He believed that the reality of what the painter's observant eye saw was the light and color stimuli of nature. He employed a thick usage of paint which was energized by his rapid, hatched brushstrokes. Pissarro was interested in the new science of photography, and its ability to record the reality of a scene. This interest can be seen in his figures and compositions. The people in his paintings come in and out of focus as they recede in the picture place, and are sometimes cut off by the innovative framing of his work, showing his affinity for photographic pictures. Pissarro's devotion to the outdoors influenced Paul Cézanne, to whom Pissarro taught the delights of working outdoors around 1872. Pissarro's encouragement extended to other Impressionist friends; he persuaded Paul Gauguin to paint and sculpt, and was immortalized in a portrait by Claude Monet which was shown in the 1866 Salon exhibition. Camille Pissarro was the only artist to exhibit his work at all of the Impressionist shows, and in fact made history by participating in the first show organized by the French Impressionist painters in 1874.
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