This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we focus on a Danish-French Impressionist painter who had a major contribution to the Impressionism movement, not only visually but also as a patriarchal figure for younger painters: Camille Pissarro.
Camille Pissarro is best known for his landscape paintings and his experimentations that helped shape modern painting together with his friends Claude Monet and Edgar Degas.
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About the Artist
Camille Pissarro was born on July 10, 1830, on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Island (former Danish West Indies) before relocating to Paris as a 12-years old young man.
In Paris, Pissarro began to study painting with great artists such as Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot with whom he developed a particular appreciation of the French art masters.
In 1849, and after returning to St. Thomas, Pissarro made the acquaintance of Danish artist Fritz Melbye, who encouraged him in his artistic endeavors. They later left together for Venezuela where they lived and worked for the next few years; Pissarro later decided to return to Paris in 1855 to study at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Académie Suisse.
It is at this time that Pissarro started to refine his skills and to experiment with a new approach to arts together with Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet. He also eventually fell in with a group of young and promising artists, who likewise chose to paint in a more realistic style, including Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. What they shared in common was their dissatisfaction with the dictates of the Salon and it also helped Pissarro realized that he was not alone and that others similarly struggled with their art.
Like many of his contemporaries, Pissarro was focusing on painting realistic landscape art and he, therefore, preferred to work in the open air rather than the studio, painting scenes of village life and the natural world. His "Boulevard Montmartre" cityscape series is one of his most famous work and "Le Boulevard de Montmartre, Matinée de Printemps", and oil on canvas painting from 1897, was sold in 2014 in London for £19.9M.
In 1873, to assist display his own unique style, Pissarro helped establish a collective of 15 artists with the goal of offering an alternative to the conventional art events in Paris. He became the "pivotal" figure in establishing and holding the group together and, the following year, the group held their first exhibition. The unconventional content and style represented in the show shocked and "horrified" critics and helped to define Impressionism as an artistic movement.
By the 1880s, Pissarro moved into a Post-Impressionist period, returning to some of his earlier themes, exploring new techniques such as pointillism, and becoming one of the early admirers of Vincent Van Gogh.
In his later years, Pissarro suffered from a recurring eye infection that prevented him from working outdoors except in warm weather. As a result of this disability, he often painted while looking out the window of a hotel room. Pissarro died in Paris on November 13, 1903, and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.
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