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Joel R. Bergquist Fine Arts

Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Printmaker

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Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Printmaker

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Camille Pissarro was the quintessential Impressionist printmaker in terms of both production and inventiveness. Though several of the original Impressionist painters were also printmakers, Pissarro was the most prolific, creating nearly two hundred etchings and lithographs between 1863 and 1902. Pissarro made his etchings in most unconventional ways. He employed a multiplicity of techniques on his plates, including etching, drypoint, emery stone, soft-ground, acid wash, and aquatint. Pissarro’s love of experimentation in etching is reflected in the fact that a great number of his plates have more than half a dozen states, some as many as twelve. Pissarro printed most of his own etchings, often annotating them with the state and the number of the impression. Because of the small number of impressions, and the care Pissarro took in his printing, the quality of the impressions he printed is quite high. On some impressions, he made an annotation that he had done the printing, e.g. “imp par C.P.” as on Paysanne portant des Seaux (1889) exhibited here. Beginning in 1894, and for the next eight years, Pissarro produced some seventy lithographs. Pissarro also made a very small number of monotypes, in both black ink, and in color (as exhibited here). Monotype is essentially a small painting on a plate, which is then transferred to paper.

Here we present a selection of Pissarro’s work in etching, lithography, and monotype.

Image: Detail of Place de la République, à Rouen (avec Tramway)

It is extraordinary that an artist who was so fascinated with color could impart his ideas effectively in black and white; yet the richness and inventiveness of his technical vocabulary enabled Pissarro to create prints that fully reflected his painterly goals.

-Barbara S. Shapiro

What a pity there is no demand for my prints, I find this work as interesting as painting, which everybody does, and there are so few who achieve something in [printmaking].

-Camille Pissarro

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Paysage sous Bois, à l'Hermitage (Pontoise),1879

220 x 268 mm Soft ground, aquatint, and drypoint

Paysanne Portant des Seaux, 1889

149 x 110 mm Drypoint and aquatint

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Mendiantes, c.1894

200 x 151 mm Etching printed with color

Mendiantes, c.1894

200 x 151 mm Etching

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Baigneuses à `l'Ombre des Berges Boisées, 1895

156 x 216 mm Lithograph

Baigneuse debout et Baigneuse agenouillée, c.1895-1896

125 x 178 mm Monotype printed in colors

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rue Géricault, à Rouen, 1896

224 x 154 mm Etching

Faneuses d'Éragny,1897

201 x 151 mm Etching

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Place de la République, à Rouen (avec Tramway),1883

224 x 154 mm Etching

Prairie et Moulin, à Osny, 1885

160 x 238 mm Etching and drypoint

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Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro was born in 1830 in the French West Indies. When he was 25 years old, he moved to Paris to pursue his passion for creating art. For about the first ten years he was in France, Pissarro was under the tutelage of Corot, from whom he learned about etching. There, he developed an enduring interest in landscape and rustic subjects. In 1866, Manet befriended Pissarro, and introduced him to a coterie of artists who often met at the Café Guerbois in Paris. This group, with their unconventional aesthetic, eventually became the Impressionists. When the Franco-Prussian War erupted in 1870, Pissarro fled with his family to England. While in England, Pissarro met frequently with Claude Monet, who was a dear friend and mentor. In London, Pissarro became acquainted with Paul Durand-Ruel, another temporary expatriate, who later became Pissarro’s dealer in Paris. In 1871, the Pissarro family moved back to France, settling in Pontoise, a suburb of Paris. He invited Paul Cézanne to join him for a time. They worked together, and Cézanne considered Pissarro to be a teacher of his. In 1879, Degas conceived the idea of producing a journal of prints to be called Le Jour et la Nuit. Degas, Mary Cassatt, and Pissarro produced prints for the publication, though it was never actually published. Pissarro’s contribution was the estimable Paysage sou Bois à l’Hermitage (exhibited here). For the Impressionist show of 1880, Pissarro submitted four different states of this subject framed together — showing how very much he esteemed this plate. In 1885, Pissarro met Paul Signac and Georges Seurat, and thereafter dabbled in pointillism for a few years, but gave it up by around 1890. At the end of the summer of 1903, Pissarro moved back to Paris to work on a set of city views. Tragically, he contracted a virulent infection that ended his life at the age of seventy-four. A gentle, sensitive man, Pissarro left a legacy of prints, drawings, and paintings that reveal a sympathetic view of ordinary people and a love of natural beauty.

Joel R. Bergquist Fine Arts
can be reached at:

phone: 650-799-9880
email: [email protected]

P.O. Box 159009, Nashville, TN 37215

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