Camille Pissarro

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Camille Pissarro, c. 1900

Camille Pissarro (10 July 183013 November 1903) was a Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist landscape-painter with important contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

Quotes of Camille Pissarro[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Pissarro
Pissarro, 1854-55: 'Village au pied d'une colline', oil-painting on canvas; location, unknown
Pissarro, 1857-58: 'Self-portrait', oil-painting on canvas; current location: National Gallery of Denmark Copenhagen
Pissarro, 1867: 'The Hermitage at Pontoise / Les Côteaux de l'Hermitage, Pontoise', oil-painting; current location: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York
Pissarro, 1867: 'Jalais Hill, Pontoise', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Metropolitan Museum of Art New York - quote of Emile Zola, 1868: 'This is the modern countryside. One feels that man has passed by, turning and cutting the earth. . . . And this little valley, this hill have a heroic simplicity and forthrightness. Nothing would be more banal were it not so grand'
Pissarro, 1868: 'The small Factory', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Strasbourg
Pissarro, 1870: 'Louveciennes with Mont Valérien in the Background', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin - late quote of Cezanne, c. 1900 (they painted together for years): 'In 1865 he [Pissarro] was already cutting out black, bitumen, raw sienna and the ocher's. That's a fact. Never paint with anything but the three primary colours and their derivatives, he used to say me. Yes, he was the first Impressionist'
Pissarro, 1873: 'The Chestnut trees in Osny / Les châtaigniers à Osny', oil-painting on canvas; private collection
Pissarro, c. 1879: 'Chestnut trees in Louveciennes / Châtaigniers à Louveciennes', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Musée d'Orsay Paris, room 35
Pissarro, 1883: 'The Stone Bridge and Barges at Rouen', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Columbus Museum of Art Ohio - quote of Pissarro, 1883: 'I have just concluded my series of paintings [after spending several months in Rouen, 1883]. I look at them constantly. I who made them often find them horrible. I understand them only at rare moments'
Pissarro, 1884: 'View of the Town of Pontoise', oil-painting on canvas; private collection; - quote of Pissarro, 1884: 'I brought Durand [his art-dealer in Paris] eight pictures.. .They have been praised, but I find them poor, - tame, grey, monotonous, - I am not at all satisfied. - I am working with fury and I have finally discovered the right execution, the search for which has tormented me for a year'
Pissarro, 1886: 'Apple Picking', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki Japan quote of Pissarro Nov. 1886: 'I wish it to be thoroughly under stood that it is Mr. Seurat.. ..who has been the first to conceive the idea of applying the scientific theory after making a profound study of it. I have only followed..'
Pissarro, 1886: 'The Roofs of old Rouen, in Grey Weather', oil on canvas; location unknown; - quote of Pissarro on this work: 'Durand [his art-dealer] likes my paintings, but not the style of execution.. .Durand prefers the old execution.. .My 'Grey Weather' doesn't please him.. .It appears that the subject is unpopular. They object to the red roof and backyard just what gave character to the painting which has the stamp of a modern primitive, and they dislike the brick houses, precisely what inspired me..'
Pissarro, 1888: 'View from my Window, Éragny-sur-Epte', oil-painting on canvas; Ashmolean Museum Oxford England
Pissarro, 1892: 'Octave Mirbeau's Garden, the Terrace, Les Damps', oil-painting on canvas; private collection
Pissarro, 1892: 'Bank Holiday, Kew', oil-painting on canvas; current location unknown - quote of Pissarro, 1892: 'I am more than ever in favour of taking one's impression from memory; it is less the actual thing - vulgarity disappears, leaving only an aura of truth glimpsed, sensed'
Pissarro, 1893: 'Place du Havre, Paris', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Art Institute of Chicago
Pissarro, 1898: 'Self portrait', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Collection Vogel, New York
Pissarro, 1902: 'The Pont-Neuf' (Paris), oil-painting on canvas; current location: Museum of Fine Arts Budapest
Pissarro, 1902: 'The Pont-Neuf, Effect of Snow' (Paris), oil-painting on canvas; current location: National Museum Cardiff Wales

1850's + 1860's[edit]

  • I am settled in France, and as for the rest of my history as a painter, it is bound up with the impressionistic group.
    • his remark, circa 1856; as quoted in Brush and Pencil, Vol. XIII, no. 6 , article: 'Camille Pissarro' Impressionist'; by Henry G Stephens, March, 1904, p. 412-13
    • quote of Pissarro, after his stay of three year without success in Venezuela, and returning back to Paris

1870's[edit]

  • Lighten your palette [his remark to Cézanne circa 1873, to encourage Cézanne to use bright colors], paint only with the three primary colours and their derivatives.
    • As quoted in Cezanne his Life and Art, Jack Linssey, – Evelyn, Adams and Mackay, London, 1969, p. 154-55
    • Pissarro 'guided' the wild Cézanne for a few years in painting landscape; for a decade or so in the mid-19th century they often worked side by side and influenced each other
  • Renoir is a great success on the Salon; I think he is 'launched'. All the better! It's a very hard life, being poor.
    • Quote in a letter to Mr. Murer, 27th May 1879, as quoted in Renoir – his life and work Francois Fosca, Book Club Associates /Thames and Hudson Ltd, London 1975, p. 129
  • What I have suffered you cannot imagine. But what I'm going through [circa 1878] now is even worse, much more so than when I was young.. ..because now I feel as if I have no future. Even so, if I had to do it again, I still think I wouldn't hesitate.
    • Quote in Pissarro, His Life and Work, Shikes and Harper, Horizon Press, 1980, p. 142

1880's[edit]

  • The next day he [uncle Alfred] took me to hear the 'Concert Colonne' at the Chatelet. First we lunched and then went to the hall. There was a fine program! Schumann, Bizet (new to me), Berlioz (ditto). - I can scarcely express how I marveled at the Hamlet and Romeo et Juliette of Berlioz. - He belongs with Delacroix, with Shakespeare, he is of the same family, he has the mark of these men of genius. He is prodigious in movement, imagination, strangeness, vigor, delicacy, sense of contrast, he is terrible and suave.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Paris, 2 April 1883, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 26
  • The ones [compliments] I value most came from Edgar Degas who said he was happy to see my work becoming more and more pure. The etcher Bracquemond, a pupil of Ingres, said - possibly he meant what he said - that my work shows increasing strength. I will calmly tread the path I have taken, and try to do my best. At bottom, I have only a vague sense of its rightness or wrongness. I am much disturbed by my unpolished and rough execution. I should like to develop a smoother technique which, while retaining the old fierceness, would be rid of those jarring notes which make it difficult to see my canvases clearly except when the light falls in front. There lies the difficulty - not to speak of drawing.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Paris, 4 May 1883, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 29-30
    • his comment after having seen his own painting-show at Durand-Ruel 's gallery in Paris, May 1883
  • I well remember that around 1874, Duret, who is above reproach, Duret himself said to me with all sorts of circumlocutions that I was on the wrong track, that everyone thought so, including my best friends.. .I admit that when alone, with nobody to prompt me, I reproached myself similarly, - I plumbed myself, - decision was terribly hard. - Should I, yes or no, persevere [or seek] another way? I concluded in the affirmative, I took into account the risks of the unknown, and I was right to stick.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Paris, 9 May 1883, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 30-31
    • Duret in letters urged Pissarro to abandon the impressionist group and to try to be admitted to the official Salon where his work would be seen by forty thousand people. Duret advises him to make 'paintings which have a subject, something resembling composition, pictures not too freshly painted' (from note 1. John Rewald)
  • I am hard at work, at least I work as much as the weather permits. - I began a work the motif of which is the river bank in the direction of St. Paul's Church. Looking towards Rouen I have before me all the houses on the quays lighted by the morning sun, in the background the stone bridge, to the left the island with its houses, factories, boats, launches, to the right a mass of pinnaces of all colors.. .Yesterday, not having the sun, I began another work on the same motif in grey weather, only I looked more to the right [603]. I must leave you for my motif. I have a room on the street. I shall start on a view of the street in fog for it has been foggy every morning until eleven o'clock—noon. It should be interesting, the square in the fog, the tramways, the goings and comings..
    • Quote in a letter, Rouen 11 October 1883, to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 40
  • The day after your departure I started a new painting at Le Cours-la-Reine, in the afternoon in a glow of sun, and another in the morning by the water below St. Paul's Church. These two canvases are fairly well advanced, but I still need one session in fine weather without too much mist to give them a little firmness. Until now I have not been able to find the effect I want, I have even been forced to change the effect a bit, which is always dangerous. I have also an effect of fog.. .Until now I have not been able to find the effect I want, I have even been forced to change the effect a bit, which is always dangerous. I have also an effect of fog, another, same effect, from my window, the same motif in the rain, several sketches in oils, done on the quays near the boats; the next day it was impossible to go on, everything was confused, the motifs no longer existed ; one has to realize them in a single session.
    • Quote in a letter from Rouen 11 October 1883, to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 42
  • I recognize fully that you do not draw well, my dear Lucien [his son, also painter]. I told you any number of times that it is essential to have known forms in the eye and in the hand. It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.
    • In a letter, 1883, to his son Lucien; as quoted by C., & Rewald, in Camille Pissarro: Letters to his son Lucien, New York: Pantheon Books, 1943 p. 32
  • I have just concluded my series of paintings, I look at them constantly. I who made them often find them horrible. I understand them only at rare moments, when I have forgotten all about them, on days when I feel kindly disposed and indulgent to their poor maker. Sometimes I am horribly afraid to turn round canvases which I have piled against the wall; I am constantly afraid of finding monsters where I believed there were precious gems !.. .Thus it does not astonish me that the critics in London relegate me to the lowest rank. Alas! I fear that they are only too justified! - However, at times I come across works of mine which are soundly done and really in my style, and at such moments I find great solace. But no more of that. Painting, art in general, enchants me. It is my life. What else matters?
    • Quote in a letter, 20 Nov. 1883; as quoted in Painting Outside the lines, Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art, ed. David W. Galenson, Harvard University Press, 30 Jun 2009, p. 84
  • I brought Durand eight pictures, among them my 'Sunset' and the motif done from my window. They have been praised, but I find them poor, - tame, grey, monotonous, - I am not at all satisfied. - I am working with fury and I have finally discovered the right execution, the search for which has tormented me for a year. I am pretty sure I have it now, all I need is to spend this coming autumn in Rouen or in some other place where I can find striking motifs.
    • Quote of Pissarro, from Osny, February 1884, in a letter to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 61
  • The weather is superb except for a very keen wind which causes me to lose much time. - I am doing a portrait of your mother in pastel, it seems it is not adequate as a likeness, it is too old, too red, not fine enough, in short, it won't do. This surprises me not at all. You know that everyone accepts the one I made pretty obvious, but that is not much good either.
    • Quote in a letter to his son Lucien, Osny, 10 April 1885; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 26
  • Yesterday Sisley was looking for me everywhere. Madame Latouche told me that he wanted some information about the technique of painting fans. Well, this means my fans are spoken of.. .I only fear one thing: that they will finally say that's all I am good for! [fans!]
    • Quote from a letter, Paris, 5 February 1886, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 68
  • Yesterday I had a violent run-in with M. Eugene Manet on the subject of Seurat and Paul Signac. The latter was present, as was Guillaumin. You may be sure I rated Manet roundly. - Which will not please Renoir. - But anyhow, this is the point, I explained to M. Manet, who probably didn't understand anything I said, that Seurat has something new to contribute which these gentlemen, despite their talent, are unable to appreciate, that I am personally convinced of the progressive character of his art and certain that in time it will yield extraordinary results. Besides I am not concerned with the appreciation of artists, no matter whom. I do not accept the snobbish judgments of "romantic impressionists" to whose interest it is to combat new tendencies. I accept the challenge, that's all..
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Paris March 1886, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 73-74
  • Durand likes my paintings, but not the style of execution. His son, the one who went to New York with him, saw them but has not said a word to me. - Durand prefers the old execution, however he grants that my recent paintings have more light - in short, he isn't very keen. My 'Grey Weather' doesn't please him; his son and Caseburne [Durand's cashier] also dislike it.. .It appears that the subject is unpopular. They object to the red roof and backyard just what gave character to the painting which has the stamp of a modern primitive, and they dislike the brick houses, precisely what inspired me..
    • Quote in a letter, Paris, 27 July 1886, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 80
  • I wish it to be thoroughly under stood that it is Mr. Seurat, an artist of great worth, who has been the first to conceive the idea of applying the scientific theory after making a profound study of it. I have only followed, like my confreres, the example set by Seurat.
    • Quote in an autograph letter 6 Nov. 1886, to Mr. Durand; as quoted in Brush and Pencil, Vol. XIII, no. 6 , article: 'Camille Pissarro' Impressionist'; by Henry G Stephens, March, 1904, pp. 412-13
  • I saw Guillaumin. We went to look at my two latest paintings which were bought by Durand. All he said was 'there's no firmness in the foreground'. It was evening, we were seeing the paintings by gas-light, which neutralized the orange tones. As Seurat says, what they [the Impressionists]] look for is thick impasto; but at Clauzet's I saw a Guillaumin, also in the evening, and it looked made of tar, so much shellac was used at the base of this painting, which in my view is really old stuff; it must be admitted that he made an effort to tighten the design but then the harmonies are insignificant and lack logic - there is no drawing, there is a flurry of colors, but no modeling; it is one step from [w: Jules Dupré|Jules Dupreé]] - modernized.
    • Quote of Pissarro, in a letter, Paris, 6 December 1886, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 84
  • My theory has been to discover the modern synthesis by methods based upon science, methods based upon the theory of colors discovered by M. Chevreul, in conformity with the experiments of Maxwell and the measurements of N. 0. Rood; to substitute the optical mingling for the mingling of pigments; in other words, the decomposition of all the colors into their constituent elements; because the optical mingling excites much more intense luminosity than the mingling of pigments. As for the execution, we regard it as nothing; it is at any rate only unimportant, art having nothing to do with it. According to us, the sole originality consists in the character of the drawing and the vision individual to each artist.
    • Quote in a letter, circa 1886-87; as quoted in Brush and Pencil, Vol. XIII, no. 6 , article: 'Camille Pissarro' Impressionist', by Henry G. Stephens; March, 1904, pp. 414-15
  • I will have to leave for Paris as soon as you return. I did two drawings [black on paper] with pen and in little dots - a 'Little Market' and a 'St. Martin (Pig dealers)'. It would be a good thing if I could sell them to some newspaper, that would bring us a few pennies.. .I still don't know what I am going to do, for Heymann seems completely indifferent. He probably knows my position and naturally is waiting for me to reduce my prices, just as Durand did last time.. .If we could place these we could get a few cents while waiting for this terrible month of January to pass.. .These drawings matted look very well.
    • Quote of Pissarro, in a letter, Paris, 5 December 1886, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 86
  • Bracquemond tells me that he looked attentively at my works at our exhibition. Far from objecting to them, as I expected, he said they were compactly drawn, and modeled, but he is shocked by the dots; he enjoined me to stick to divisionism but not to use the dot. - I said nothing to him of our experiments. He told me that of all the impressionist painters he liked my work best; this was not the first time he had said this; to each one his own taste. He does completely accept my view that the old disorderly method of execution has become impossible.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Eragny, 23 January 1887, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 97
  • This morning I received a letter from de Bellio. He writes that he does not believe scientific research into the nature of color and light can help the artist, neither can anatomy nor the laws of optics. He wants to discuss these questions with me and find out my views. Now everything depends on how this knowledge is to be used. But surely it is clear that we could not pursue our studies of light with much assurance if we did not have as a guide the discoveries of Chevreul and other scientists. I would not have distinguished between local color and light if science had not given us the hint; the same holds true for complementary colors, contrasting colors, etc. 'Yes', he will tell me: 'but these have always been taken into account, look at Monet' It is at this point that the question becomes serious!
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Eragny, 23 February 1887, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 99
  • Tell [Père] Tanguy to send me some paints. What I need most are ten tubes of white, two of chrome yellow, one bright red, one brown lac, one ultramarine, five Veronese green, one cobalt j I have on hand only one tube of white ... I expect to begin to paint again from nature, and I need the colors.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Eragny, 25 February 1887, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 100
  • I can quite understand the effort he is making; it is a very good thing not to want to go on repeating oneself. But he has concentrated all his attention on line; the figures stand out against each other without any sort of relationship, and so the whole thing is meaningless. Renoir is no draughtman, and without the lovely colours he used to use so instinctively, he is incoherent.
    • In a letter to his son w:Lucien Pissarro, 14th May 1887, as quoted in Renoir – his life and work, Francois Fosca, Book Club Associates /Thames and Hudson Ltd, London 1975, p. 188
    • Pissarro's critical quote on Renoir's painting art
  • I have had a long talk with Renoir. He admitted that the whole crowd – Durand and his former admirers – were shouting at him, deploring his attempt to abandon his 'Romantic' period. He seems very sensitive to what we think of his exhibition. I told him that as far as we were concerned, the search for unity should be the aim of every intelligent artist. – that even in spite of serious faults, it was more intelligent and artistic than wallowing in romanticism.
    • Quote in a letter to his son Lucien, 14th May 1887, as quoted in Renoir – his life and work, Francois Fosca, Book Club Associates /Thames and Hudson Ltd, London 1975, p. 189
  • P.S. If you happen to see Seurat or if you write to Signac, tell them that I have tried the mixture of cadmium (well recommended by Contet) , with red, white and Veronese green. It becomes black in four or five days from the Veronese green. Even blacker than the chrome yellow mixture. Tell this to Contet.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Paris, 31 May, 1887, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 114
  • I hope that with the help of van Van Gogh and Durand we will be able to emerge from this situation [selling nothing]. It seems to me that I deserve no less, since I have worked conscientiously. I do not believe that anyone could devote - if not more talent - more care and good will to the service of his art; it takes me hours of reflection to decide on the slightest detail. Is this impatience?.. .I think not! For I do not wish to make a brush stroke when I do not feel complete mastery of my subject, there's the rub - that is the great difficulty; without sensation, nothing, absolutely nothing valid.. .I believe I have hit my stride. I have begun a series of things which will really be in my style.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Eragny, 26 April 1888, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 124
    • Theo van Gogh was working in the Paris' art-gallery Goupil & Cie and selling Impressionist artists
  • I work mostly in the studio; as I mentioned several times, the leaves are burgeoning and change so rapidly that I have been unable to prepare a single sketch. I am making little watercolors and pastels, I think they will come out all right; in the studio I am preparing five or six canvases, I work on one after another, I am getting used to working that way.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Eragny, 15 May 1888, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 125-126
  • I think continually of some way of painting without the dot. I hope to achieve this but I have not been able to solve the problem of dividing the pure tone without harshness.. .How can one combine the purity and simplicity of the dot with the fullness, suppleness, liberty, spontaneity and freshness of sensation postulated by our impressionist art? This is the question which preoccupies me, for the dot is meager, lacking in body, diaphanous, more monotonous than simple, even in the Seurat's, particularly in the Seurat's [paintings].. .I'm constantly pondering this question, I shall go to the Louvre to look at certain painters who are interesting from this point of view. Isn't it senseless that there are no Turners [here]..
    • Quote of Pissarro, Paris, 6 September 1888, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 131-132
  • [ Seurat's pointilist style ].. ..inhibits me and hinders the development of spontaneity of sensation. [1]
    • quote, c. 1888; as quoted in: Arts and Activities. Vol. 81-82, (1977), p. cxxxvii
  • I don't know what to write Feneon about the theory of 'passages'. I will write him what seems to me to be the truth of the matter, that I am at this moment looking for some substitute for the dot [which was the 'heart of [w:Neo-Impressionism|Neo-Impressionist]] painting]; so far I have not found what I want, the actual execution does not seem to me to be rapid enough and does not follow sensation with enough inevitability, but it would be best not to speak of this. The fact is I would be hard put to express my meaning clearly, although I am completely aware of what I lack.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Paris, 20 February 1889, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 134-135
    • Rewald: 'This data was doubtless for an article in preparation. While the question of the 'passage', which was going to separate Camille Pissarro from pointillism and thus from Divisionism, was then the main preoccupation of the artist, Pissarro was still unable to express himself with precision on it.'

1890's[edit]

  • I began to understand my sensations, to know what I wanted, at around the age of forty.. ..but only vaguely. At fifty, that is in 1880, I formulated the idea of unity, without being able to render it. At sixty, I am beginning to see the possibility of rendering it.
    • (c. 1890); as quoted in Painting Outside the lines, Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art, David W. Galenson, Harvard University Press, 30 Jun 2009, p. 84
  • Each one of us [artists] has several facets. The surface often appears more important than what is inside, hence the errors of those who judge carelessly. How many times has that not happened to me! The surface is often complete in some people from the very beginning, but not the possession of their own sensations. From this come errors. Some natures achieve the surface very slowly j this is the least danger an artist runs. So one should not think of the surface or the appearance, but concentrate on what is inner!
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, Eragny, 17 November 1890, in a letter to his son Lucien; from Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 139-140
  • What I dislike is that he [= Paul Gauguin ] copied these elements from the Japanese, the Byzantine painters and others. I criticize him for not applying his synthesis to our modern philosophy which is absolutely social, anti-authoritarian and anti-mystical. - There is where the problem becomes serious. This is a step backwards; Gauguin is not a seer, he is a schemer.. .The symbolists also take this line! What do you think? They must be fought like the pest!
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter to his son, 20 April 1891, in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien, ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro – (translated from the unpublished French letters by Lionel Abel); Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 163
  • Here I have been able to make some good spring studies in oils, and managed to finish my 'Cow-girl' and my 'seared Woman', and my 'London Park', Primrose Hill. I think these pictures have improved a great deal from the point of view of unity. How different from the studies! I am more than ever in favour of taking one's impression from memory; it is less the actual thing - vulgarity disappears, leaving only an aura of truth glimpsed, sensed. To think that this is not understood, so that my anxiety for the future continues as before, despite the success of the exhibition. – I have no news from Paris about my collectors.
    • Quote in a letter to his son Lucien, 26 April 1892, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock - , Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 144
  • One can do such lovely things with so little. Subjects that are too beautiful end by appearing theatrical – take Switzerland, for example. Think of all the beautiful little things Corot did at Gisors; two willows, a little water, a bridge, like the picture in the Universal Exhibition. What a masterpiece!.. .Everything is beautiful, all that matters is to be able to interpret.
    • In a letter to his son Lucien, 26 July 1892, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock - , Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 146
    • Quote of Pissarro, referring to a willow-painting of his former art-teacher Camille Corot
  • ..I saw Gauguin; he told me his theories about art and assured me that the young [artists] would find salvation by replenishing themselves at remote and savage sources. I told him that this art did not belong to him, that he was a civilized man and hence it was his function to show us harmonious things. We parted, each unconvinced. Gauguin is certainly not without talent, but how difficult it is for him to find his own way! He is always poaching on someone's ground; now he is pillaging the savages of Oceania.
    • Quote about Paul Gauguin 23 Nov. 1893, in Racontars d'un Rapin, Paul Gauguin; as quoted by John Rewald, in 'Introduction' of Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien, ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro – (translated from the unpublished French letters by Lionel Abel); Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 221
  • The weather today is frightful, rain and wind. You must be having the same at Epping; it's a pity. It had been so fine for the last few days and I had begun to grind away from nature. This is infuriating, for it's the loveliest time of the year, September and October. I can't stand the summer any more, with its heavy, monotonous green, its dry distances where everything can be seen, the torment of the great heat.. .Artistic sensations revive in September and October, but then it rains and blows!
    • In a letter to his son Lucien, 15 September 1893, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock - , Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 148
  • It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.. .So much the better if it is painful for you to take even the first step, the more toilsome the work, the stronger you will emerge from it.. .I repeat, guard against facility.
    • Quote in a letter to his son Lucien (1894); as quoted in Painting Outside the lines, Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art, David W. Galenson, Harvard University Press, 30 Jun 2009, p. 84
  • Work at the same time upon water, sky, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis and unceasingly rework until you have got it. Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression.
    • his remark in 1896, as quoted in: Paul Cézanne, ‎Terence Maloon, ‎Angela Gundert (1998) Classic Cézanne, p. 45
  • Don't be afraid of putting on color, refine the work little by little. Don't proceed according to rules and principles, but paint what you observe and feel.. .One must have only one master – nature; she is the one always be consulted.
  • advice to a young painter, (1896); as quoted in Painting Outside the lines, Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art, ed. David W. Galenson, Harvard University Press, 30 Jun 2009, pp. 84-85, note 40
  • Sisley, I hear, is seriously ill. He is a great and beautiful artist, in my opinion he is a master equal to the greatest. I have seen works of his of rare amplitude and beauty, among others an 'Inundation' [in the Camondo collection], which is a masterpiece.
    • In a letter to his son Lucien, 22th January 1899

after 1900[edit]

  • Decidedly, we are at cross-purposes. What's all this you tell [from England] about the modern movement, commercialism, etc, etc? It bears no relation to our concept of art, at any rate here.. .That is where the error lies. Trade serves those up to us as readily as anything else; so it is no use. Wouldn't it be better to steep ourselves in genuine nature again? I do not consider in the least that we are making a mistake, that we should turn to the steam-engine and follow the general public [ William Morris, the more traditional artist became very popular those days].. .No, a thousand times no! We are here to point the way.. ..the remedy is to be found in nature, more than ever. Let us follow what we consider to be the proper aim, we shall see who is right. After all, money is a fragile thing; let us earn some of it, since we must, but let us keep to our role.
    • In a letter to his son Lucien, 26 April 1900, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock - , Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 148
  • This Mr. Dewhurst has not understood the Impressionist movement in the very least. All he sees in it is a technical method.. .He also says that before going to London we knew nothing whatsoever about light; but we have studies that prove the contrary. He omits the influence of Claude Lorrain, Corot, all the 18th-century painters, Chardin most of all. But what he fails to realize is that while Turner and Constable were of service to us, they confirmed our suspicion that those painters had not understood 'The Analysis of Shadows', which in the case of Turner are always a deliberate effect, a plain dark patch. As to the division of tones, Turner confirmed us its value as a method, but not as a means of accuracy or truth to nature. In any case, the 18th century was our tradition. It seems to me that Turner too, had looked at Claude Lorrain. I am even inclined to think there is a picture by Turner, 'Sunset', hung side by side with a Claude.
    • Quote in a letter to his son Lucien, 8 Mai 1903, as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock - , Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 149
    • Quote of Pissarro - referring to the writer of the book Impressionist Painting, it Genesis and Development, published in 1904

undated quotes[edit]

  • Work is a wonderful regulator of mind and body. I forget all sorrow, grief, bitterness, and I even ignore them altogether in the joy of working.
    • In a letter to his son, Lucien; as quoted in: Brother Thomas (O.S.B.), ‎Rosemary Williams (1999) Creation Out of Clay: The Ceramic Art and Writings of Brother Thomas. p. 45
  • Never paint except with the three primary colors [red, blue, and yellow] and their derivatives.
    • Attributed to Pisarro, in Philip Ball (2001() Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color. p. 178
    • Advise to his students to lightening their palette and remove colours such as black, ocher and sienna

Quotes about Camille Pissarro[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Pissarro
  • Your mother asks me to write to you to come and have dinner with us today. Because this is the evening when we celebrate 'la fete de Kipur' and on this solemn occasion the whole family should be together – and tomorrow not work, we should pass that day together.
    • his father, Frederic Pissarro, in his letter in 1859, to Camille; as quoted in 'Camille Pissarro, Rebbe of the Impressionists', by Menachem Wecker [2]
    • in a letter to his son Camille Pissarro, on the eve of Yom Kippur - reminding him about the holiday
  • This [Pissarro's painting: ''Jalais Hill, Pontoise', 1867] is the modern countryside. One feels that man has passed by, turning and cutting the earth.. .And this little valley, this hill have a heroic simplicity and forthrightness. Nothing would be more banal were it not so grand. From ordinary reality the painter's temperament has drawn a rare poem of life and strength.
  • It was then [c. 1873], as I remember that Paul Cézanne began to paint with vertical divisions and Papa [his father, Camille Pissarro] adopted the long brush to paint in little comma's. A peasant who had watched them side by side at Auvers, remarked that 'M. Pissarro at working, made little stabs at the canvas ('il piquait'), and M. Cézanne laid on the paint like plaster ('il plaquait'). [Cézanne's painting 'Small house at Auvers' is painted with some of these vertical divisions that Lucien [the son of Camille Pissarro, and later also a painter] noted then.
    • Quote by his son Lucien Pissarro; as quoted in Pissarro, His Life and Work, Shikes and Harper, Horizon Press, 1980, p. 128
  • What dreadful weather always [c. 1876] raining the poor flowers were hardly open when the rain killed them our big red poppies didn't even have time to appear before they disappeared and the roses, poor roses it's so sad and what mud, impossible to put your feet out of doors. ..it's so cold that the asparagus haven't come out, nor have the peas or the beans I planted. Most of them have rotted I'll have to plant them all over again. Luckily we are not ready to eat them yet, by the grace of God. Write to us and tell me what you are doing.
    • Quote of his wife Julie Pissarro, in a letter to her husband (Spring 1876) about the bad weather, as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 179
  • Try telling M. Pissarro that trees are not purple, or the sky the colour of butter; that the things he paints cannot actually be seen anywhere in nature.. ..try to explain to M. Renoir that a woman's torso is not a rotten mass of flesh, with violet-toned green spots all over it, indicating a corps in the final stage of decay.
    • Albert Wolff (1876), quote of the French art-critic in the Paris paper 'Figaro', 1876, criticizing the second Impressionist exhibition: 'Salon des Refugées'; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 154
  • If I dared, I should say that your letter is imprinted with sadness. The picture business isn't going well; I fear that your morale may be colored a little grey, but I'am sure that it's only a passing phase.. .I imagine that you would be delighted with the country where I am now.. ..in L'Estaque, by the sea..
  • I've started two little motifs of the sea, for Monsieur Chocquet [one of them became his painting 'The Sea at L'Estaque'], who had talked to me about it. It's like a playing card. Red roofs against the blue sea.. .There are the olive trees and the pines that always keep their leaves. The sun is so fierce that objects seem to be silhouetted, not only in black or white, but in blue, red, brown, violet. I may be wrong, but this seems to be the very opposite of 'modeling' How happy the gentle landscapists of Auvers would be here, and that [con, or 'bastard'?] Guillemet.
    • Quote of Paul Cezanne, in his Letter to Pissarro, from L'Estaque 2 July 1876, taken from from Alex Danchev, The Letters of Paul Cézanne, 2013; as quoted in [the 'Daily Beast' online, 13 Oct. 2013
    • 'The very opposite of modeling' meant roughly that Cézanne and Pissarro in their common painting-years would lay down one plane or patch of color next to another, without any 'modeling' or shading between them - so that it looked as if each component part of the painting could be picked up from the canvas a little like a 'playing card from the table', as Cezanne explains here.
  • Great as was my wonderment [visiting the 8th Impressionist Exhibition, May/June 1886, at 1, rue Laffitte in Paris] it was tenfold increased on discovering that only six of these pictures were painted by the new man, Seurat, whose name was unknown to me; the other five were painted by my old friend Pissarro.. .The pictures were hung low, so I went down on my knees and examined the dotting in the pictures signed Seurat, and the dotting in those that were signed, Pissarro. After a strict examination I was able to detect some differences, and I began to recognize the well-known touch even through this most wild and most wonderful transformation. Yes, owing to a long and intimate acquaintance with Pissarro and his work, I could distinguish between him and Seurat, but to the ordinary visitor their pictures were identical.
  • The impressionist paintings of Manet, Cezanne and Monsieur Degas, express with exemplary sincerity the new sensations, the new world our eyes experience. Now here the successors to these artists [ Seurat & Pissarro] are trying to perfect the forms created by them. They found in the notes of Delacroix, in the scientific discoveries of Chevreul and Rood, the suggestion for a type of painting in which color impressions are ordered by the combining of little multi-colored brush strokes. But while they were attentive to such improvement of the means, they forgot the true end of art, the sincere and complete expression of vivid sensations. The works of these painters - Pissarro and Seurat are the most notorious - are interesting only as the exercises of highly mannered virtuosos. Their paintings are lifeless for the painters did not strive for sincerity, being too taken up with external formulas.
  • M. Camille Pissarro has painted a field bathed in sunlight, whose forms, colors and reflections are admirably synthesized. It is more field than any field we have ever seen. We cannot understand what interest the brutal paintings of M. Claude Monet and the simplicist works of M. Renoir can have. Both these artists have taken the wrong path.
    • Jules Desclozeau, in his review of the International Exhibition, May 1887; quoted in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 111 note 23
  • It's still misery for - may I say it? - us other impressionists. I tried the overdoors again at Mme. Boivin's, but she says it is her husband and he says it is she who does not want them [buying Pissarro's paintings], even after having read your letter, he did not want me to hang a painting very high so that he might judge the effect. Thus I can do only one thing, which is to send you the enclosed 500 francs in advance on the business that we will do.. .When Miss Rogers comes, I shall show her all my paintings [of Pissarro]. . ..he must buy a painting of yours and not the least expensive. She ought to be able to afford a fine painting at the customary price and she must not let us down. Best regards from me and my wife, also to Mme. Pissarro. When you have something new, let me know.
    • Quote by Theo van Gogh, in a letter from Paris, 5 July 1890 to Pissarro; as quoted by Robert Harrison, (transl. Robert Harrison) number to. [3]
  • There is M. Camille Pissarro, who has some very ardent admirers, and yet who is very foreign to me.. .It seems to me that he admits lines and masses that a stricter taste would alter or avoid, and that he includes objects that a more scrupulous artist would reject.. .He does not seem to care whether the line of shore is beautiful or not, and he has so little objection to ugly objects that in one of his pictures the tower of a distant cathedral is nearly obliterated by a long chimney and the smoke that issues from it, whilst there are other long chimneys close to the cathedral, just as they might present themselves in a photograph. By this needless degree of fidelity, M. Pissarro loses one of the great advantages of painting.
    • Quote of P. G. Hamerton, 1891, in 'Impressionism', - 'The Present State of the Fine Arts in France', in The Portfolio, 1891
  • Pissarro wants to achieve delicacy by means of adjustments of nearly like tones; he keeps from juxtaposing two distant tones and does without the vibrant note which such contrast gives, but strives on the contrary to diminish the distance between two tints by introducing into each one of them intermediate elements which he calls 'passage'. But the neo-impressionist technique is based precisely on this type of contrast, for which he feels no need, and on the violent purity of tints which hurts his eye. He has kept of divisionism only the technique, the little dot, whose raison d'etre is exactly that it enables the transcription of this contrast and the conservation of this purity. So it is easy to understand why he [Pissarro] gave up this means, insufficient as it is by itself.
    • Quote of Paul Signac, in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 135
    • Signac, in his book De Delacroix au Neo-impressionnisme, tried to explain in this way Pissarro's desertion from Neo-Impressionism around 1890
  • That is why, perhaps, all of us derive Pissarro. He had the good luck to be born in the West Indies, where he learned how to draw without a teacher. He told me all about it. In 1865 he was already cutting out black, bitumen, raw sienna and the ocher's. That's a fact. Never paint with anything but the three primary colours and their derivatives, he used to say me. Yes, he was the first Impressionist.
    • Quote by Paul Cézanne in: 'What he told me – I. The motif', in Joachim Gasquet's Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906); Thames and Hudson, London 1991; p. 164
  • ..[Pissarro].. ..who was not thinking of posing as a revolutionist and who was tranquilly working in Corot's style.
    • Claude Monet, in an interview with Thiebault-Sisson, 1900; as quoted in Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artist's Life, Mary Mathews Gedo; University of Chicago Press, Sept. 2010, p. 10 (note 35)
    • Monet speaks about the period 1859-1860 when he himself enrolled in the loosely organized Acedemie Suisse in Paris, where he met Pissarro for the first time
  • Pissarro wants to achieve delicacy by means of adjustments of nearly like tones; he keeps from juxtaposing two distant tones and does without the vibrant note which such contrast gives, but strives on the contrary to diminish the distance between two tints by introducing into each one of them intermediate elements which he calls 'passage'. But the neo-impressionist technique is based precisely on this type of contrast, for which he feels no need, and on the violent purity of tints which hurts his eye. He has kept of divisionism only the technique, the little dot, whose raison d'etre is exactly that it enables the transcription of this contrast and the conservation of this purity. So it is easy to understand why he [Pissarro] gave up this means, insufficient as it is by itself.
    • As quoted by John Rewald, in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, pp. 135
    • Paul Signac, in his book De Delacroix au Neo-impressionnisme, tried to explain in this way Pissarro's desertion from Neo-Impressionism around 1890
  • [Pissarro is] one of the three of four great painters of the time. He possesses solidity and breadth of touch, he paints handsomely, following tradition, like the masters.
    • Emile Zola; as quoted by Rothkopf, K., & Lloyd, in Pissarro: Creating the impressionist landscape; Baltimore Museum of Art, 2006, p. 46
  • If we observe the totality of Pissarro' s works, we find there, despite the fluctuations, not only an extreme artistic will which never lies, but what is more, an essentially intuitive pure-bred art.. .He looked at everybody, you say! Why not? Everyone looked at him, too, but denied him. He was one of my masters and I do not deny him.
    • Quote by Paul Gauguin c. 1902, in Racontars d'un Rapin, Paul Gauguin; as quoted by John Rewald, in 'Introduction' of Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien, ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro – (translated from the unpublished French letters by Lionel Abel); Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 15
    • Gauguin (after Paul Cezanne) came to ask advice and painted landscape at the side of Pissarro. The traces of this apprenticeship as an impressionist were soon to disappear from Gauguin's works, but shortly before he died, he wrote these sentences about Pissarro
  • It's like Impressionism. They all do it at the Salons. Oh, very discreetly! I too was an Impressionist. I don't conceal the fact. Pissarro had an enormous influence on me. Bit I wanted to make out of Impressionism something solid and lasting like the art of the museums.
    • Quote by Paul Cézanne in: 'What he told me – I. The motif', in Joachim Gasquet's Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906); Thames and Hudson, London 1991; p. 164
  • Until the war [between France and Germany, c. 1870], as you know, my life was a mess. I wasted it. It was only at l'Estaque, (1870-1871) when I thought things over, that I really understood Pissarro, a painter like myself.. .He was a determined man. I was overcome by a passion for work. It wasn't that I hadn't been working before, I was always working. But what I always missed, you know, was a comrade..
    • Quote by Paul Cézanne in: 'What he told me – III. The Studio' in Joachim Gasquet's Cézanne, - a Memoir with Conversations, (1897 - 1906); Thames and Hudson, London 1991; p. 208

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