Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro
The only painter to exhibit in all eight Impressionist exhibitions organized between 1874 and 1886, Camille Pissarro became a pivotal artist and mentor within the movement. While the Impressionists are known for their depictions of city streets and country leisure, Pissarro covered his canvases with images of the day-to-day life of French peasants. His greatest work joins his fascination with rural subject matter with the empirical study of nature under different conditions of light and atmosphere, deriving from intense study of French Realism. Like those of his Impressionist cohorts, his paintings are delicate studies of the effect of light on color in nature. However, he continually sought out younger, progressive artists as colleagues, and his articulation of scientific color theory in his later work would prove indispensable for the following generation of avant-garde painters. For Pissarro, in 19th-century France, Impressionism was about much more than the fleeting effects of light. It was about labor, the elimination of hierarchies and an idealized balance between urban and rural life.

Often regarded as the first Impressionist, Camille Pisarro is known both for his revelatory plein air landscape pictures, such as in The Path to Les Puilleaux, Pontoise (1881), and for mentoring artists including Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. Art historian John Rewald called Pissarro the "dean of the Impressionist painters", not only because he was the oldest of the group, but also "by virtue of his wisdom and his balanced, kind, and warmhearted personality". He "acted as a father figure not only to the Impressionists" but to all four of the major Post-Impressionists, including Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.