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Camille Pissarro reproduction paintings

Camille Pissarro

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Camille Pissarro

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Born on July 10, 1830, in St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, and passing away on November 13, 1903, in Paris, France, Camille Pissarro, or Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro to give him his full name, was a painter and printer essential to the development of Impressionism. In his entire career, Pissarro was the only artist to participate in all eight of the Impressionist group's exhibits, and he never wavered in his support of the concept of showing art in non-traditional venues. He dabbled with many different approaches, including the "pointillist" style popularized by Georges Seurat. Many of his acquaintances referred to him as "Father Pissarro" because of his role as a supportive friend and mentor to famous painters like Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin.


The third son of a Jewish businessman of French (originally Portuguese) heritage, Pissarro was an artist. His family had a business on St. Thomas's main drag, Charlotte Amalie, and they resided above the store. By the time Camille was 12, his parents had sent him to a boarding school in Passy, not far from Paris. Since he was a young child, Pissarro had an eye for art and was often seen in the Louvre's collection.

He returned to St. Thomas when he was 17 and was immediately thrust into the family company. But Pissarro was more interested in drawing at the harbor, and in November 1852, he traveled to Venezuela with the elder artist Fritz Melbye, a Dane who was there to paint. After deciding he needed to escape "the bondage of bourgeois existence," Pissarro "abandoned everything I had and rushed to Caracas." Pissarro spent a lot of time sketching the city of Caracas when he was there. In August of 1854, he moved back to St. Thomas. In the autumn of 1855, he left home for the last time, on his way to Paris, when his parents recognized that no arguing would alter their son's decision to be a painter.

Initial Years

Pissarro made it to the Paris Universal Exposition just in time to check out the modern art on display, where the works of Camille Corot immediately caught his eye. In 1856, he enrolled in private lessons at the École des Beaux-Arts, and by 1861, he was working as a copyist at the Louvre. At the "free studio" Académie Suisse, he met other future Impressionists like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Armand Guillaumin. He also became acquainted with Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley via Monet.

Pissarro received mentorship from Melbye's brother Anton throughout his formative years in France, during which he painted West Indian themes from memory. Pissarro referred to himself as "Pupil of A. Melbye" until 1866, from the time he first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1859 until then. To further his training, he received informal instruction from Corot, who encouraged him to paint outside. Because of Corot's influence, Pissarro's early works often include a receding road or river in perspective and people (often seen from behind) to establish size. Unlike Corot's silvery tones, however, the ones in his early works tend toward blonde and green.

During this time, Pissarro traveled to remote locations, such as Montmorency, La Roche-Guyon, and Pontoise, where he painted landscapes. This began a lifetime routine of working outside of Paris while making regular trips to the city for leisure. The couple had their first child, Lucien, in 1863. He started dating his mother's maid, Julie Valley, about 1860. (They tied the knot in London in 1871 and had eight kids.)

Throughout the 1860s, Pissarro was more critical of the academic rigor of the École des Beaux-Arts and the Academy, engaging in heated discussions with younger painters like Monet and Renoir at the Café Guérbois. Pissarro was revered as a father figure by his fellow artists since he was ten years older than they were, and his passionate defense of equality and against the unfairness of the art award system won over everyone. Despite exhibiting in the Paris Salon, he and his contemporaries were increasingly dissatisfied with the exhibition's jury system and the obstacles that little paintings like theirs faced.

The Franco-German War broke out in 1870, interrupting art world discussions. Pissarro connected with Monet and art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel on his way to London. While working on paintings like The Crystal Palace, London (1871), Pissarro made his home in the city's developing south. Years later, he reflected on his and Monet's shared enthusiasm for the London vistas and writing. While Monet was painting in the parks, I saw the impacts of winter and spring in Lower Norwood, a delightful neighborhood at the time. While visiting his home in Louveciennes, France, Pissarro learned that Prussian troops had destroyed most of his studio's worth of work.

Back in Pontoise in 1872, Pissarro reassembled his inner group of artists, including Guillaumin and, most significantly, Cézanne, for whom he carefully showed his approach to painting directly from nature. Cézanne's painting approach was revolutionized because of what he learned. In retrospect, he described his tutor as "a parent to me, a someone to consult, and something like the good Lord" in 1902.

Years of Camille Pissarro's Impressionism

Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, and others explored the notion of starting an alternative to the Salon in the early 1870s, and the artist gave the concept a lot of attention. By January 1874, Pissarro had helped establish a cooperative based on the notion of a society with a charter based on a local bakers' union. The group's eponymous debut exhibition, the first Impressionist exhibition, took place in April of that year in the Paris photography studio of Nadar, located at 35 Boulevard des Capucines. There were five paintings by Pissarro on display, including "Hoar Frost," "The Old Road to Ennery," "Pontoise," and "The Nightingale" (1873). Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot were among the other artists that displayed their work.

The painters of the Impressionist movement sought to capture the fleeting effects of light and color on the contemporary world around them. They focused on texture, tone, and high-key color rather than standard modeling and composition. While several of his contemporaries chose to paint contemporary urban scenes, Pissarro was more interested in depicting the effects of light on rural settings. His early Impressionist works had characteristically loose brushwork and a lack of movement sketching.

Pissarro was dismayed by how the first Impressionist show was received. He was bitter when he wrote to the critic Théodore Duret, telling him, "Our exhibition goes well." Yes, it was a smashing success. The critics dismantle us and say we haven't done our homework; I'm returning to work since that's more fun than reading reviews. The artist was financially and emotionally in dire straits after the death of his nine-year-old daughter Jeanne just before the show's opening.

Even still, Pissarro was sure that the collective's solo shows were the way to go. He returned to the other founding members of the Impressionist group. He exhibited in the second group show, held in April 1876 at the gallery of Durand-Ruel, after exploring the notion of another alternative platform for display dubbed the "Union." He presented 12 paintings—among them, two made at Montfoucault, the house of his friend Ludovic Piette—that covered spring, summer, and winter landscapes. His efforts were attacked once again. Pissarro also had a growing amount of trouble making ends meet. Renoir recounted being rejected by a collector who stated, "You are too late." Pissarro has just departed, and I have stolen a painting of his. One should remember that he is a human being and has a big family. The poor sod!

Renoir, Sisley, and Cézanne had all left when the fourth group exhibition was held in 1879, and Monet didn't participate in 1880. Forced to ponder the future of the shows, Pissarro informed the painter Gustave Caillebotte: “We need guys of talent—who are deserting us—[and] we also need new works. . . . Where will our artistic union go if our top artists leave us? The sixth and seventh Impressionist exhibits confirmed Pissarro's fears, especially because Degas brought in so many new painters. Despite Caillebotte's strident objections, Pissarro welcomed the newcomers, saying that Degas had "brought to us Mlle [Mary] Cassatt, [Jean-Louis] Forain, and you [Caillebotte himself]."

Despite the troubles affecting the Impressionist shows, Pissarro remained adamant in his reluctance to return to the Salon. Young Peasant Woman Drinking Her Café au Lait is an example of his focus on figures rather than landscapes during this period (1881). Pissarro, the patient tutor, continued to guide the youthful and colorful Paul Gauguin throughout this time. He was also closely connected with Degas and Cassatt, with whom he collaborated on the publication of Le Jour et la Nuit (or "Day and Night"), a monthly periodical devoted to prints. Though the journal never saw the pattern, Pissarro did produce several high-quality photos, inspiring Degas to gush to his friend, the printer Félix Bracquemond: "Pissarro is delicious in his zeal and faith."

Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist Art in Crisis

In 1883, Pissarro wrote in one of many letters to his son Lucien, part of a contact that lasted 20 years (until Pissarro's death): "I shall quietly travel the route I have selected, and strive to do my best." However, maintaining composure became challenging. It was already tricky for Pissarro to sell paintings when the French economy tanked in the early 1880s, but he was also struggling with doubts about the direction his art was headed as he shrank his brushstroke and sought to add structure.

When Pissarro was a young man, he left Pontoise for the little town of Eragny on the Epte River. The following year, he came into contact with other young avant-garde painters, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, and he converted to their Neo-Impressionist painting style. Pissarro dotted the canvas with paint in complementary colors to achieve this effect, which the eye would read as a single hue. In his fifties, Pissarro was still keen to experiment with new forms of expression; he distinguished the "romantics" of the Impressionist movement from the "scientists" of the new school.

The lack of unity among the surviving painters was on full display during the eighth and last Impressionist exhibition in 1886 when the work of the Neo-Impressionists was presented separately from the others. Even more surprisingly, neither Monet nor Renoir showed up there. Pissarro exhibited nine oil paintings, including View from My Window, Eragny-sur-Epte (1886-88), and gouaches, pastels, and etchings, in response to Seurat's monumental A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884 (1884-86), which dominated the room. In usual fashion, the Irish critic George Moore failed to understand Pissarro's new work: "Due to a long and close experience with Pissarro and his work, I could discern between him and Seurat, but to the common visitor, their works were similar."

Beginning in 1889, Pissarro started to distance himself from Neo-Impressionism, which he felt rendered it "difficult to be genuine to my senses and therefore to represent life and movement." The circumstances in the art world that had made the group exhibits appear so important had changed; new galleries were opening and showcasing the work of avant-garde artists; and Impressionism, notwithstanding the stylistic differences among the painters, had reached its natural conclusion. In the end, Pissarro was the only Impressionist group member to participate in all eight of the group's exhibits.

The last years

In 1890, Pissarro reached a point when he thought he had figured out how to achieve the cohesion in his paintings that he had sought all along. In a letter to his niece Esther Isaacson, he explained how he came to make this discovery: "When I was around 40 [in the 1870s], I started to grasp my feelings and to realize what it was that I wished to do—but vaguely." In 1891, dealer Georges Bernheim wrote to Pissarro, "Your time has arrived!" after seeing how far Pissarro had progressed since the height of Impressionism. A massive retrospective of Pissarro's work was hosted by Durand-Ruel, which was very well received, and the artist finally found financial security for the first time in his life.

When other Impressionists like Monet, Renoir, and Sisley moved on from cityscapes, Pissarro began a series of paintings from a hotel window overlooking the Gare Saint-Lazare. At this train station, he arrived from Eragny. Working on many canvases at once, he depicted recurring scenes of Rouen Cathedral and the harbor city of Le Havre, a technique made famous by Monet in his latter years. In contrast to his Neo-Impressionist earlier works, Pissarro's later works are more freely painted and often include a vantage point of an upper-story window. He painted many versions of the same landscape to thoroughly investigate and portray the effects of light and weather changes, continuing his lifelong effort to convey sensations of light and color in his art. By achieving a balance between tones and colors and using a uniform brushstroke over the canvas, he finally reached the sense of cohesion he had been striving for.


Famous Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro. To some extent, he epitomized the Impressionist movement because of his unwavering devotion to depicting landscapes under precise weather and lighting circumstances and his firm conviction in the merits of autonomous group exhibits. By the end of his life, he had already begun to receive critical acclaim; this assessment held steady throughout the 20th century, with critics and academics uniformly recognizing his status as an essential character in Impressionism.

Pissarro's work and life span the gap between the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite his modest demeanor, Pissarro left an indelible mark on the early 20th-century avant-garde via his unyielding curiosity for change and his impact on groundbreaking painters like Cézanne and Gauguin, and his unwavering antagonism to the creative establishment.

Most paintings Camille Pissarro did are about Landscape, Cityscape, People, Garden, Sketch and Study, Portrait, House, and other subjects.

Most of the artist's works that can be seen by the public today are now kept in museums like Musée d'Orsay, Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, NY, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology - University of Oxford, National Gallery of Art - Washington DC, Art Institute of Chicago, and others.

Famous Camille Pissarro period artists include Eugène-Louis Boudin (French, 1824 -1898), Marianne North (British, 1830 -1890), Edgar Degas (French, 1834 -1917), Ivan Constantinovich Aivazovsky (Russian, 1817 -1900), Alfred Sisley (French, 1839 -1899), Paul Cézanne (French, 1839 -1906), Paul Gauguin (French, 1848 -1903), Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (Russian, 1832 -1898), Isaak Levitan (Russian, 1860 -1900), Winslow Homer (American, 1836 -1910), Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830 -1902), Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836 -1904), and others.

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