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Pissarro: come dipinge un grande uomo

Pissarro: how a great man paints

Reading biographies and articles on Camille Pissarro we often find the definition that labels him as "Father of Impressionism".

The art critic of the time Armand Silvestre even called him "The inventor of impressionist painting", wronging Claude Monet and demonstrating a questionable knowledge of painting.


Pissarro was not an impressionist.


It is true that, thanks to his character and personality, he was a point of reference for all the artists of that era. He was the eldest of the group, but he was also balanced, friendly and generous.

Renoir considered him a "revolutionary", for Cézanne he was "something similar to the good Lord" and for everyone he was "Père Pissarro" (Father Pissarro). A friend of everyone, he too frequented the Caffè Guerbois, transmitting his enthusiasm to the group and giving a word of encouragement to everyone. It was he who discovered and appreciated the genius of Van Gogh.


Pissarro does not practice a single "style". He began by referring to Gustave Courbet and Jean Millet and Camille Corot by rejecting what he considered "mere academic discipline".


He became acquainted with the painting of Constable and Turner and he too was fascinated by Japanese painting enough to write: "It's wonderful. Here is what I glimpse in the art of this surprising people ... nothing that immediately catches the eye, a calm, a greatness, an extraordinary unity, a tenuous and subdued radiance "


Contrary to the impressionist theories he wrote: "Only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one day you discover to your great surprise that you have achieved something in its true character".


He experienced divisionism which he abandoned because it did not allow him to express his feelings and because it required a very long time to complete.


He returned to "his" style with renewed vigor despite being hit by a drastic lowering of vision and many remember him with admiration and affection "to see from morning to evening, an old man with a long white beard, in front of the window" who with serenity and commitment ... he painted.


Andrea Giuseppe Fadini

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