Camille Pissarro, often called the Father of Impressionism, was born on July 10, 1830 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to a French Jewish family. He grew up speaking English and Spanish, as well as French. As a boy he was sent to Paris for school, and as a young man of 25, he moved to France to make his career as an artist.
His colleagues, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and countless others acclaimed him as a great artist and teacher. He spearheaded the Impressionist movement and was the only artist to participate in all eight Impressionist exhibitions. Émile Zola, noted art critic and author of the time said, “Camille Pissarro is one of the three or four true painters of this day . . . I have rarely encountered a technique that is so sure.”
Never satisfied with the familiar, he was always inventing new artistic ideas, which led him to experiment with Pointillism for a few years. He soon became frustrated with the time-consuming process, and developed new techniques that would allow him to better capture his “sensations.”
He most often sought motifs in ordinary places and painted the villages, fields, and rivers around him in villages outside of Paris. Unsatisfied with the familiar, he continuously put himself in new places and new situations. In his 50s, he developed an eye infection that caused him to search for scenes he could paint from sheltered locations. He began making series of paintings—in Paris, Rouen, Dieppe, Le Havre, Belgium, and London—switching effortlessly from cityscape back to the country meadows near his home.
His last painting series in Paris included his final self-portrait. After a brief illness, he died on November 13, 1903 surrounded by his family.
Detailed information on the life of Camille Pissarro is available at Pissarro:Critical Catalogue of Paintings by Joachim Pissarro and Claire Durand-Ruel Snoellerts (2005).
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