Born on July 10, 1830, Danish-French artist Camille Pissaro is known for creating fantastic landscape paintings. The major theme of Pissarro’s paintings were the quiet natural sceneries and the busy city life – both of which were truly a sight for sore eyes.
As with many artists, Camille Pissaro’s parents also opposed his decision to pursue his interest and become an artist. Therefore, Pissarro left his home at 22 to go on an art voyage to Venezuela with Danish artist Fritz Melbye. After a couple of years, the artist returned home, but his heart and mind were always chasing the dream of becoming a painter.
In 1855, Camille Pissarro left his home for the last time and moved to Paris to pursue his art career. His life in Paris completely changed his life and made him the artist he is today. In today’s article, we will discuss Pissarro’s life in Paris and his learnings there. So, let’s hop on!
First Journey to France
Camille Pissaro first went to France at 12, when he was sent to the Savary Academy, a boarding school in Passy, near Paris. Pissarro’s father had married the widow of his dead uncle, which is why the Jewish community of St. Thomas island in the southern Caribbean did not accept the marriage.
He and his four brothers went to a nearby all-black school as a kid. After spending a few years, Pissarro went to a school in Paris which caught his attention in art. Unfortunately, Pissarro’s inclination towards art got him to neglect other subjects. Seeing his keen interest in art, Pissarro’s schoolmaster Monsieur Savory inspired and laid a strong ground for him to create paintings.
It was Monsieur Savory who suggested Camille Pissarro take inspiration from nature and create paintings of it. Pissarro was a genuine lover of nature and worked hard on developing his sketching and painting skills. At 17, Pissarro returned to his hometown in St. Thomas to join the family business.
Return to Paris
The year was 1855 when French Impressionist artist Pissarro could no longer distance himself from the art world and realized painting was the only thing he wanted to do in life. Therefore, for the last time, he left his home and returned to Paris, where he worked as an assistant to Danish artist Anton Melbye.
Camille Pissarro had previously met Anton’s brother Fritz Melbye, with whom Pissarro was on a 2-year-long art voyage to Venezuela. In Paris, Camille Pissarro attended the famous École des Beaux-Arts and then studied at the unconventional Académie Suisse. Here, he also had the opportunity to work closely with famous painters like Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet.
In the first few years in Paris, with the help of these genius artists, Camille Pissarro began to brush up his skills and experimented with new approaches to painting. Eventually, he met with a group of young artists, including Paul Cezanne and Claude Monet, who shared a similar interest in art as Pissarro did.
Pissarro preferred to paint doors and was, therefore, an influential member of the Impressionists. Despite having a studio in Paris, Camille Pissaro spent much of his time in the countryside, painting scenes of village life and the natural world.
During this time, Pissarro fell in love with his mother’s house help named, Julie Vellay. Over the years, Pissarro and Julie had eight children together and got married in 1871. By this time, Camille Pissarro had over 1500 amazing art pieces under his belt that were truly mesmerizing.
Unfortunately, the Franco-Prussian war broke out in late 1870, which forced the Pissarro family to flee from the country. They settled in southwest London, where Pissarro painted areas of Norwood and Sydenham. The family returned to France in June 1871, when Pissarro found that the Prussian soldiers had destroyed many of his paintings. Out of 1500 works he had completed, only 40 survived the war.
Formation of Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs’
Camille Pissarro was not just a part of the Impressionist movement in France. He was one of the founding members of the movement. As a result, Pissarro’s art style and approach often faced harsh criticism from critics. Following the event, Pissarro, Monet, Cezanne, and Guillaiman, were also not allowed to exhibit their works at the Paris Salon.
To fight the dictatorship of the Salon, Camille Pissarro and 15 other artists, including Monet and Cezanne, established an art society and named it Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs’.
The society was formed as an alternative to the famous Salon society and catered to inspire new and unconventional art styles. Camille Pissarro is often called “Father Pissarro” by his acquaintances for his contribution to molding society.
Despite suffering from an eye condition, Pissarro never abandoned painting and remained active till his death. By the end of his life, Pissarro had worked in countries like the United States, Germany, and Belgium.
Pissarro had lived in Paris for most of his life, but he never revoked his Danish nationality. On November 13, 1903, Camille Pissarro breathed his last due to a declining health condition and was buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.