Home » Artists » Camille Pissarro’s Impressionism Artworks & Life Story

Camille Pissarro Artworks belonging to Impressionism, Postimpressionism & Neoimpressionism

Some of Camille Pissarro’s artworks show elements of Impressionism, others Post-Impressionism and later works, Neo-impressionism. He enjoyed experimenting with new ideas and techniques from the different avant garde art movements.

Camille Pissarro was active in both the Impressionism art movement and the Post-Impressionism art movement that swept through France in the late 19th century & early 20th century.

Due to his warm nature and helpful guidance, he was friends to many of the budding and now world-famous French artists of the late 19th century. Camille Pissarro was the only artist who exhibited in all eight impressionism art exhibitions between 1874 and 1886.

Camille Pissarro artworks - Self Portrait
Camille Pissarro Artworks – Self Portrait [Public Domain]

Pissarro’s Early Years

Camille Pissarro was born into a Jewish-Portuguese family and grew up in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. His parents owned a modest hardware business and encouraged their four sons to pursue the family trade.

When Pissarro turned 12, he started learning in a boarding school in Passy near Paris, France. His artistic interests began to emerge due to the encouragement of the school’s headmaster, Monsieur Savary.

Camille Pissarro returns to the family business as is expected of him. However after a few years, Pissarro decides to abandon the business to his family’s dismay. In his mid twenties, Pissarro decides to pursue an art career and moves to Paris.

Pissarro returns to Paris in 1855 to pursue art

Camille Pissarro enrolls into various art classes at both the Académie Suisse and the École des Beaux-Arts. In these institutions he learns both the great masters and modern artists.

However, Pissarro finds art school and their teaching methods confining. So he decides to pursue his art studies outside of school, most notably under the guidance of the French artist, Camille Corot.  Corot inspires Pissarro to practice plein-air painting, which he does and thoroughly embraces.

Camille Pissarro starts painting everything as he views it. The art critics do not accept the vibrant colors in his paintings. Nor do they like that he depicts landscapes with dead trees and other natural flaws.

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing – Quote Camille Pissarro

Plum Trees in Blossom, Éragny -Camille Pissaro impressionism artwork
Camille Pissaro artworks- Impressionism Art [Public Domain]

Over a 1400 Pissarro Artworks are destroyed

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, Pissarro can not join the French army because of his Danish nationality. He decides to flee France for England.  In 1871, he marries Julie Vellay, his mother’s maid, with whom he will eventually have eight children.

After the war, the Pissarros return to France and the artist discovers that only 40 or so from his 1,500 paintings remain from his 20 years of painting. Sadly, the rest of his artworks were destroyed during the war.

Camille Pissarro - Dans le jardin des Mathurins, Pontoise
Camille Pissarro Artworks [Public Domain]

Camille Pissarro & the Impressionists

On returning to France, Pissarro and Monet organize the first Impressionism art exhibition in 1874. Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot and others exhibit their paintings together with them. Their exhibition was a failure . The public scorned their artworks and the criticism was harsh.

Everything is beautiful, all that matters is to be able to interpret – Quote Camille Pissarro

However the young determined impressionists were undeterred. They continued with their new painting methods and styles despite the negative reaction.

Les Carrières du Chou, Pontoise - Camille Pissarro Painting
Camille Pissarro Painting [Public Domain]

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Pissarro leaves Paris for the countryside and mentors the young emerging artists

Camille Pissarro moves to a small town not far from Paris called Pontoise. His artistic friends often cometo visit him. Young Cezanne looks up to Pissarro and considers him his mentor. Often they painted together, Pissarro patiently guiding Cezanne.

Cezanne says of Pissaro:

“The humble and colossal Pissarro” 

Paul Gauguin, a stockbroker at the time, also admired Camille Pissarro’s artworks and seeks out the older artist for encouragement and artistic guidance. In addition, Pissarro mentors the younger American artist, Mary Cassatt who is also active in the impressionist circle of artists.

Pissarro L'Hermitage à Pontoise,1867
Pointoise Landscape by Camille Pissarro [Public Domain]

Pissarro continues to evolve & joins the Post-Impressionists

However, by the 1880s, Camille Pissarro is already evolving beyond the Impressionism art movement. He experiments and changes with his painting style as he comes in contact with the younger painters, such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne. Pissarro adopts the techniques of the neo-impressionists and post-impressionists.  

Old Age and Hotel Rooms

Towards the end of his life, Pissarro has recurring eye infections and can no longer paint outdoors, especially when there is a cold wind. He can only plaint outdoors and in warm weather.

Therefore, in order to continue painting all year round, Pissarro rents hotel rooms on upper floors throughout Paris and paints the views from his hotel windows. He captures birds-eye views of the city, portraying the newly built grand boulevards and buildings of the French capital.

Montmartre Boulevard - Camille Pissarro Paintings
Montmartre Boulevard – Camille Pissarro Painting [Public Domain]

This worked well for Pissarro and he painted from multiple hotels throughout several cities. 

Pissarro died in 1903 at the age of 73 and was buried in the Jewish section of the cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris.

Camille Pissarro Painting of Paris
Pont Neuf Paris – Camille Pissarro Painting [Public Domain]

Camille Pissarro’s Legacy:

Today Camille Pissarro is acknowledged as one of the greatest French artists of the Impressionism art movement.

He was also revered by several major figures of Post-Impressionism, such as the exotic  Paul Gauguinand Paul Cezanne.

His overall contribution to the history of impressionism art was over-shadowed by other impressionists for a very long time. Where Monet was the prolific practitioner of the Impressionist style, Pissarro was considered the key leader of the Impressionist technique.

During the five prolific decades of his artistic career, Camille Pissarro painted over 3,000 paintings in oils, tempera, pastels, watercolors and gouache.

In addition, he created hundreds of fine art prints.

Where to View Camille Pissarro’s Artworks in France

Today the most prestigious art museums all around the world are exhibiting Camille Pissarro’s artworks.

Museums in Paris

If you are traveling to Paris, you can view wonderful collections of Pissarro in the following art museums:

Traveling to Normandy?

The Musée d’art moderne André Malraux in Le Havre

You will see a fabulous variety of Pissarro artworks in the Le Havre Impressionist Museum (MuMa) . It has the second largest impressionism art collection after the D’Orsay Museum. I highly recommend!

Are you looking for an organized tour to Le Havre, Normandy from Paris that includes the MuMa museum? See the link below for a fantastic day trip option.

Rouen’s Musée des Beaux-Arts ( The Museum of Fine Arts)

If you are a fan of Impressionism art, then you MUST visit Rouen’s Museum of Fine Arts . This museum showcases an impressive impressionist collection including paintings of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and others. For more information about opening hours, ticket prices and current exhibitions, press here.

Self-Portrait with Beret and Spectacles - 1903 - Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro Self-Portrait [Public Domain]