Camille Pissarro


The French painter and graphic artist Camille Pissarro is one of the co-founders of French Impressionism. Along with Monet and Sisley, he was one of the first Impressionist landscape painters. He never got tired of painting the same motif in different moods and lighting in order to capture the changing play of colours in the light. It was not until the later work that he also addressed the theme of city life. In addition to numerous paintings, he left behind more than 200 etchings and lithographs. The correspondence with his son Lucien is an important testimony to the art appreciation of his time.

Pissarro was born on 10 July 1830 on the small Antillean island of St. Thomas. He began painting for two years in Caracas in 1852 with a friend and then studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and the independent Académie Suisse in Paris from 1855. The influence of Corot's style is particularly noticeable in the paintings of this period which are strongly toned atmospheric landscapes.

It was not until his contact with Claude Monet in 1859 that the Impressionist elements in his painting became stronger. After a visit to London in 1870/71, he found his way to a liberated use of colour in order to reproduce air and light impressions by studying Turner's paintings. Back in France he worked closely with Paul Cézanne in Pontoise and Auvers-sur-Oise. He produced his first still lifes. A phase of pointillism around 1885 can be traced back to his contact with George Seurat. Through his involvement in the independent exhibitions of the Impressionists, he became one of the most important artists of this style.

However, it was not until the 1990s that Pissarro, the father of seven children, gained the artistic recognition he desired. His solo exhibitions in Paris, where he died on 13 November 1903, became great successes. Now it was no longer fields, meadows and orchards that formed the centre of his choice of motifs but the big city with its many faces. Even today, his pictures captivate us with a high degree of freedom, freshness and beguiling colourfulness.