Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist painter. His importance resides not only in his visual contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, but also in his patriarchal standing among his colleagues, particularly Paul Cézanne.
Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to Abraham Gabriel Pissarro, a Portuguese Sephardic Jew, and Rachel Manzana-Pomié, from the Dominican Republic. Pissarro lived in St. Thomas until age 12, when he went to a boarding school in Paris. In 1852, he traveled to Venezuela with the Danish artist Fritz Melbye. In 1855, Pissarro came to Paris, where he studied at various academic institutions and under a succession of masters, such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, and Charles-Fran?ois Daubigny. Corot is sometimes considered Pissarro's most important early influence. Pissarro listed himself as Corot's pupil in the catalogues to the 1864 and 1865 Paris Salons.
His finest early works are characterized by a broadly painted naturalism derived from Courbet (, sometimes with palette knife), but with an incipient Impressionist palette.
While residing in London, he painted local views including the new Dulwich College, Lordship Lane Station and St Stephen's Church. He painted some ten scenes of central London, in 1892, painting in "Kew Gardens" and "Kew Green.
Pissarro married Julie Vellay. Of their eight children, one died at birth and one daughter died aged nine. The surviving children all painted, and Lucien, the oldest son, became a follower of William Morris.
Known as the "Father of Impressionism", Pissarro painted rural and urban French life, particularly landscapes in and around Pontoise, as well as scenes from Montmartre. His mature work displays empathy for peasants and laborers, and sometimes evidences his radical political leanings. He was a mentor to Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin and his example inspired many younger artists, including Californian Impressionist Lucy Bacon.
Pissarro's influence on his fellow Impressionists is probably still underestimated; not only did he offer substantial contributions to Impressionist theory, but he also managed to remain on friendly, mutually respectful terms with such difficult personalities as Edgar Degas, Cézanne and Gauguin. Pissarro exhibited at all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions. Moreover, whereas Monet was the most prolific and emblematic practitioner of the Impressionist style, Pissarro was nonetheless a primary developer of Impressionist technique.
Pissarro experimented with Neo-Impressionist ideas between 1885 and 1890. Discontented with what he referred to as "romantic Impressionism", he investigated Pointillism which he called "scientific Impressionism" before returning to a purer Impressionism in the last decade of his life.
In March 1893, Paris Gallery Durand-Ruel organized a major exhibition of 46 of Pissarro's works along with 55 others by Antonio de La Gandara.
Pissarro died in éragny-sur-Epte in Paris. During his lifetime, Camille Pissarro sold few of his paintings.