Camille Pissarro

Artist

Born: 10 July 1830
Died: 13 November 1903
Birthplace: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Dutch West Indies
Best known as:

The Impressionist who painted Montmartre's boulevards

Name at birth: Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro

Painter Camille Pissarro was one of the primary figures of French Impressionism in the last half of the 19th century. Born and raised in the Dutch West Indies, he emigrated to Paris in 1855 to study. When it came to painting, Pissarro was mostly self-taught, although he was greatly influenced by painters Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet. Pissarro's talent seemed to be in painting what he saw, but early on he drifted away from realism. During the 1860s, he painted mostly large landscapes for the Salon, but the Franco-Prussian war drove him to London in 1870, where he and Claude Monet had success with smaller paintings that emphasized light and color. Pissarro is known mostly for his forthright depictions of French life, especially the countryside around Pontoise and the boulevards of Montmartre. When he did paint people, he had a sympathetic eye for peasants and laborers, reflecting his lifelong tendency toward radical and anarchist politics. He participated in all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions in France (1874-86), the only painter of his coterie to do so. Late in his career he dabbled in pointillism, but he had more success with urban scenes in different light and weather conditions. He was also considered a great teacher, and was a powerful influence on both Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. Pissarro's famous paintings include a series from Rouen, as well as The Côte des Bœufs at L’Hermitage (1877) and The Boulevard Montmartre at Night (1897).

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