Camille Pissarro, one of the parents of Impressionism

He was the only painter whose works were exhibited in each and every one of the 8 Impressionist exhibitions that took place between 1874 and 1886. Camille Pissarro became a key artist and at the same time a mentor within the impressionist movement. We explain the key points to understand both the work and the life of one of the parents of Impressionism.

A little biography

Boulevard de Montmartre - Wikimedia Commons

Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro He was born on July 10, 1830 on the island of Santo Tomás. It is a Caribbean island that was colonized by the Danes, but is currently part of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

His father was a French citizen of Judeo-Portuguese descent who traveled to the island to formalize his uncle's inheritance and ended up marrying his widow. The marriage was enormously controversial and the Jewish community in the area refused to recognize him. As a result, the Pissarro children grew slightly marginalized.

At age 12, his parents sent Pissarro to a French boarding school. During his stay in France he fell in love with French art teachers. When he finished his studies he returned to Santo Tomás and became involved in the family business. However, he never stopped drawing and painting in his spare time.

Camille Pissarro: the beginning of his career and influences

Way of Versailles - Wikimedia Commons

It wasn't until 1849 that Pissarro met the Danish artist Fritz Melbye, who encouraged him to deepen his art. In 1852, both left Santo Tomás and moved to Venezuela, where they worked for some years.

Later, in 1855, Pissarro returned to Paris and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. He worked with Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet. There he perfected his skills and experimented with various techniques.

Later, Pissarro became part of a group of young artists, which included Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. Everyone shared concerns and interests. Also, his works were not accepted by art establishments, since they did not correspond to the traditional style of official exhibitions.

«Everyone discusses myart and pretends to understand, as if necessary, when it is simply love.


After Pissarro's death, Cézanne himself identified himself as “Paul Cézanne, a student of Pissarro.” For this reason, we conclude that the artistic exchange and Pissarro's influence was enormously important for French modernist painting.

It should be added that, although Pissarro had a studio in Paris, he spent most of his time outside. Like many of his contemporaries, I preferred to work outdoors, capturing nature and rural life.

A teacher in the study of the effect of light and color

Landscape in Chaponval - Wikimedia Commons

The best works of Pissarro combine a fascination for the rural with the empirical study of nature under different light conditions, derived from the study of French realism. Like his impressionist colleagues, Pissarro's paintings are delicate studies of the effect of light and color on nature.

But nevertheless, this painter constantly pursued new techniques. Thus, he also approached much younger and progressive artists. In fact, his articulation of color theory in his latest works greatly influenced the next generation of painters.

Important works of Camille Pissarro

Two women talking by the sea (1856)

It shows two women walking along a path on the island of Santo Tomás, Where was he born. In this work, Pissarro's ability to combine the local Caribbean color with the soft color palette of the Barbizon school, a French group of painters, is demonstrated.

Jalais Hill, Pointoise (1867)

This work shows Pissarro's house, located northwest of Paris. Through it were important personalities such as Cézane and Gauguin, among others.

Self Portrait (1873)

Wikimedia Commons

For all his contemporaries, Camille Pissarro was a collaborator and a mentor. In addition, he used to welcome younger artists to study and paint with him. In the same way, He was the father of eight children and a family man.

He was known as «Pere Pissarro». For this reason, the painter represents himself as a fatherly and wise figure, with a beard and eyes of an old wise man, despite only being 43 years old at the time.

Frost, the old road of Ennery, Pointoise (1867)

This is, without a doubt, one of Pissarro's masterpieces. Is about one of the five works he exhibited in the first impressionist exhibition in 1874.

As we have seen, Pissarro's influence was crucial for several French and European artistic movements. In addition, the artistic exchange that took place between contemporaries greatly enriched the art of the time.

Video: Father and Son: Camille and Lucien Pissarro (January 2020).