Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Camille Pissarro

Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro was born in St. Thomas (then part of the Danish West Indies) and lived there most of his young adult life, except when he attended school in Paris from 1842 to 1847. He moved to France in 1855, first establishing himself in Paris and then living in various towns in the countryside outside the city. He did not travel as extensively as other impressionists, choosing to focus on painting the landscapes around the villages he lived in.

Key piece to look for: The Thaw or The House of Monsieur Musy, Louveciennes (Le Dégel or Maison de Monsieur Musy, Louveciennes), 1872

Pissarro is known for his panoramic compositions of landscapes and cityscapes in and around Paris. With strong political leanings, he subtly explored ideas about the industrialization of the countryside and the recent modernization of Paris through his landscapes, using broad brushstrokes to integrate peasant life and the rural environment. Although he almost always included figures in his paintings, he was not interested in their individual stories—rather, they served to give perspective and illustrate how the land was shaped by human hands. He is the only painter to have exhibited at all eight Impressionist exhibitions, and he briefly experimented with the neo-impressionist technique of applying paint in systematic dots of color on the canvas.

Image credit: Camille Pissarro, The Thaw or The House of Monsieur Musy, Louveciennes, 1872. Oil on canvas; 12 5/8 x 17 13/16 in. Collection of Frederick C. Hamilton.

Laura Barton is an intern in the Denver Art Museum's education department. Her favorite artwork on view right now is Louis Anquetin's Avenue de Clichy (Street-Five O'clock in the Evening).