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Camille Pissarro Prints

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Camille Pissarro was a well-known French artist. He was mainly involved with Impressionist paintings, reflecting especially on the lives of French peasants.

Born on St. Thomas island of Danish Antilles (Caribbean) on 10th July, 1830, Pissarro was always interested in experimenting with art. This interest led him to relocate to Paris where he eventually ended up in shaping a movement called Impressionist movement along with stalwarts like Edgar Degas and Claude Monet.

Pissarro’s father was a citizen of France. He had gone to St. Thomas to settle the estates of his deceased uncle but ended up marrying his widow. As a result, this marriage was not immediately accepted by his small Jewish community. Hence, the Pissarro children were treated as outsiders.

Camille Pissarro was sent to boarding school in France when he was 12 years old. There he got recognition for his artistic skills from the art masters. After completing his studies, Pissarro returned to his native land and joined his father’s mercantile business. However, he continued to follow his passion of painting alongside.

Around 1849, Pissarro made Fritz Melbye (the famous Danish artist) acquaintance and was encouraged to pursue his artistic aspirations. In the year 1852, both of them went to Venezuela and continued working there for few years. Pissarro came back to Paris in 1855 and joined the art school called “École des Beaux-Arts and Académie Suisse”. His close association with painters like Gustave Courbet and Camille Corot helped him in honing his artistic skills and exploring new approaches in art. Later he became a part of a young artists’ group including Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet, all of whom shared same interests and passions. The works of these young artists were rejected by the ‘Artistic Establishment’ of France by branding them as “non-traditional”. Hence they could not participate in the prestigious Salon exhibitions.

Pissarro had a studio in Paris but he spent most of the time in the outskirts. He preferred working under open sky rather than in the closed studio. He painted scenes of natural world and village life. He had married his mother’s maidservant, Julie Vellay and had 8 children from her. His career got a big jolt during the Prussian-France War in 1870-71, when he had to escape to London along with his family. After the war he returned to France, only to discover that most of his work got destroyed.

A true artist, Pissarro rebounded from this mishap soon. He soon connected back with all the artist friends such as Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet and Cézanne Monet. Along with them, Pissarro formed a group of fifteen artists. This group held its first exhibition in 1874. The unconventional style and content of their paintings shocked the critics and laid the foundation for defining Impressionism as a movement in the field of arts. Pissarro had exhibited 5 paintings, including “TheOld Road to Ennery” and “Hoar Frost”. In the coming years they held several other exhibitions.

Pissarro was the only painter whose paintings were exhibited in all the 8 Impressionist exhibitions, which were held from 1874 to 1886. His paintings mainly reflected effects of light on different colors within the natural surroundings.

Around 1880s, Pissarro started working with some of his old themes and experimenting with new techniques like Pointillism. His lifelong curiosity for innovations in art turned him away from the Impressionist painting. This in general contributed to the decline of the movement.

Suffering from an eye infection, he had to stop working in the outdoors and later died on 13th November, 1903, in Paris.

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