With his prematurely grey and thick beard Camille Pissarro was regarded as a father figure for the group of progressive painters in Paris, including Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Renoir and Degas.
He was always out of way with conservative Paris Salon, the official body whose academic traditions dictated the kind of art that was acceptable. Sometimes his ‘revolutionary’ works shocked the critics, sometimes even horrified them. Twice in his lifetime he helped to establish a collective society of aspiring artists, becoming the “pivotal” figure in holding the group together and encouraging the other members. Critic Armand Silvestre went so far as to call Pissarro “basically the inventor of Impressionist painting”.
However, as an artist, he never stopped to explore new styles and methods of painting. In his 50s he has realised he got stuck in artistic ‘mire’ and decided to break out of Impressionism. Actually, Pissarro was the only Impressionist who joined ‘rebel’ painters and moved on with new vision. His friendship with Paul Signac and Georges Seurat resulted in his take on pointillism, using very small patches of pure colours to create the illusion of blended colours and shading when viewed from a distance. Again, after four years of perfecting the technique, Pissarro abandoned neo-impressionist path as ‘too artificial’.
Painter remained in constant artistic quest until his death in 1903. By the way it was Pissarro who ‘foreseen the power’ of one artist, then 23 years younger than him, before anyone recognised his genius. Name of this artist was Vincent Van Gogh.
Camille Pissarro (born in St Thomas Island, then Danish West Indies, 1830 – 1903)