Camille Pissarro

Dates1830 - 1903
BornCharlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands, United States
DiedParis, France

Camille Pissarro was expected to work in his father's shop in the West Indies, not become an artist. After a long struggle, Pissarro arrived in Paris in 1855, where he studied with Camille Corot and met many of the future Impressionists. By 1866 he was painting entirely outdoors and living in dire poverty. On returning from London after the Franco-Prussian War, he discovered that German troops had made a boardwalk out of the three hundred paintings that he had left in storage.

In 1874 Pissarro participated in the first Impressionist exhibition. "The humble and colossal Pissarro," as Paul Cézanne called him, was the group's peacemaker, the only painter to exhibit in all eight of their shows, and the one who invited younger artists like Cézanne and Paul Gauguin into the group. When told that someone was making money or had won a medal, Pissarro responded calmly, "Only the painting counts."

Pissarro was interested mostly in landscapes and rural life and was enormously prolific in many media: painting, pastel, gouache, drawing, etching, and lithography. From 1884 to 1888 he adopted George Seurat's pointillism. After 1895 he suffered from an eye infection, gave up working outdoors, and turned to painting town views from his windows. He died blind in 1903.