Text Size + – 

Camille Pissarro

born Saint-Thomas (Danish West Indies) 1830, died Paris 1903

Pissarro learned to draw when his parents sent him for schooling in Paris in 1841. After an unsettled period during which he first worked in his father's store and then went to Venezuela with the Danish painter Fritz Melbye (1826–1896), Pissarro returned to Paris in 1855, in time to see the World's Fair. He enrolled in both the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the less regimented Académie Suisse.

Pissarro asked Camille Corot for advice, and aspects of the older painter's style can be seen in Pissarro's silvery palette and soft touch through the mid-1860s. After that time the more assertive style of Gustave Courbet is evident.

After sporadic success at the Salon, Pissarro was eager to find alternative exhibition venues. He was the only artist to participate in all eight of the group Impressionist shows. Pissarro preferred living in the country to the city, and he settled in Pontoise as early as 1866, moving from there to increasingly rural locales.

By all accounts a generous and kindly man, Pissarro counseled Paul Cézanne in the early 1870s and was himself influenced by the younger painters Georges Seurat (1859–1891) and  Paul Signac in the later 1880s.

Although success came late to Pissarro, he continued to find challenging motifs. Pissarro also left an impressive body of prints, many of which are technically innovative.

Source: Monet and the Impressionists exhibition catalogue:
Shackelford, George T M. Monet and the Impressionists.
Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2008

Learn more in the exhibition:
> Early Impressionism
> The triumph of Impressionism: the 1880s
> Impressionism after 1900

Works by Camille Pissarro in the exhibition

Pontoise, the road to Gisors in winter  1873, Camille Pissarro.
Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: bequest of John T Spaulding

Pontoise, the road to Gisors in winter 1873, Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
Pontoise, the road to Gisors in winter  1873
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:  bequest of John T. Spaulding. Photograph © MFA, Boston
> This artwork on the website of the MFA Boston

Impressionist works in Te Papa's collections

Self-Portrait at the Easel, Paul Cezanne
Te Papa's collections feature works on paper by French Impressionists. more>