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Camille Pissarro: 1830 - 1903

Born in Saint Thomas in the West Indies of a fairly affluent mercantile family, Pissarro was sent to Paris to complete his education. In 1855 he enrolled at the Academie Suisse, where he got to know Monet, and by frequenting the Cafe Guerbois he soon met the other Impressionist artists. Influenced by Corot, he exhibited at the Salon between 1864 and 1869, and at the Salon des Refuses in 1863. During the Franco-Prussian War he joined Monet in London where they met Durand-Ruel. Actively involved in the creation of the Societe Anonyme des Artistes, he took part in all the Impressionist exhibitions. Around 1865 Pissarro adopted a form of Pointillism, but he eventually reverted to his earlier style. His versatility extended to fan and porcelain painting, engraving and illustration. Politically a radical, he had a strong leaning towards the anarchistic beliefs that were causing alarm throughout Europe society at the time.



Pissarro's impressionism has much of the sobriety of Sisley's but less reflective. he was the oldest member of the group, being two years older even than Edouard Manet. Everyone who knew Pissarro seems to have left some account of him, and by all these accounts his life and his character were a catalog of virtues - loyalty to his friends, wisdom as the father of a large family, courage in adversity, and patience, tolerance, honesty, and industry in all circumstances.

Although Pissarro was intent upon capturing transient effects just as Monet was, he never abandoned the relative discipline of early impressionism, and for a while late in his career he joined the "neo-impressionists," who tried to solidify impressionism by systematizing its free prismatic shattering of light into a scientific application of color into minutely calculated dots. Pissarro soon abandoned this extreme, but that he was attracted to it at all shows his cautiousness in the use of impressionist effects. While Monet was pushing further into exploration of effects of light in air at the expense of form, Pissarro was retreating. The Market at Gisors is an effort to retain the atmospheric vibration of impressionism while at the same time imposing the discipline of well defined contours on forms monumentally arranged in space.

More than any other member of the group, Pissarro encouraged younger men. At least three painters who were notoriously suspicious and thorny to deal with - Degas, Cezanne, and Gauguin - always retained a deep affection for him. Like Monet's and Sisley's, his financial situation was often desperate and at best difficult, but finally, at the age of sixty-two, he had the satisfaction of seeing his reputation established, not spectacularly but sound enough, in a large retrospective exhibition organized by Durand-Ruel. It was a gratifyingly happy ending to an admirable career.



Additional Exhibits on Camille Pissarro
A Painting Lesson From Pissarro Pity Poor Paul Cezanne (includes information on Pissarro) - By John Sheridan

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