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Pissarro, Camille (1830-1903)
by Scholes, Robert

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Camille Pissarro (1830 - 1903)

He was born on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, Danish West Indies. His fater was Abraham Gabriel Pissarro, of Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and his mother was Rachel Manzano-Pomié. The Pissarros operated a dry goods store in the city of Charlotte Amalie. Camille was sent to Paris for schooling where his interest in drawing became apparent. He returned and worked in his father's business but continued sketching and painting. Unhappy in bourgeois life and wanting only to paint, he fled to Venezuela at the age of 23, staying there until his parents agreed to allow him to go back to Paris to continue studying art. There he met Cézanne and Monet, whose break with tradition was helpful to him in making his own. In 1874 he joined Monet and other "independent" painters in organizing a show of their own works, which drew the hostile lable "impressionism." From then on, he was a leading impressionist and the only one who exhibited in all eight of their shows. From 1886 to 1890 he experimented with pointillism, called neo-impressionism at the time, joining Paul Signac, Maximilien Luce, and Georges Seurat, with whom he also shared anarchist political sentiments, but he returned to impressionism in his last years. One of his sons, Lucien carried on his tradition and took it to London, where he was a member of the Camden Town group.

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