REPRESENTING WORKS BY THE PISSARRO FAMILY
GEORGES MANZANA PISSARRO
1871 – 1961
Georges-Henri Pissarro, best known as Manzana, was the third of seven children of the Impressionist Camille Pissarro. Like his siblings he was, from an early age, enveloped by the world of painting: not only attributable to his father, but also to many other distinguished artists such as Monet, Cézanne, Renoir and Gaugin, to name but a few, who frequented the Pissarro household. Indeed this virtual predestination to the pursuit of a career in art was furthered even in his private life - two out of his three wives - Amicie Brécy and Blanche Moriset (Roboa) - were recognized artists in their own right.
Between 1889 and 1898 additional exposure to the world of painting and artists was gained via frequent sojourns abroad, principally in London where on and off he spent some seven years. Thus steeped in tradition and subjected to these diverse influences, Manzana turned out to be a prolific and versatile artist - not only working in all the recognized media but progressing beyond in the search for other means of expression.
He was dedicated to this craft in a working life spanning 70 years, outstripping that of his prodigious father Camille who was only active for just more than half a century.
Like all the second generation Pissarro artists, George’s initially worked under an assumed name; "Manzana" being the family of his maternal grandmother. It was not until 1906, out of respect to his by then deceased father Camille, that he employed his own family name Pissarro when signing his work.
It is perhaps an interesting observation on the trials and tribulations suffered by artists of the time that Camille Pissarro exhorted his children to avoid any direct expression of the Pissarro name - at least as far as seeking recognition for their work was concerned - considering his name to be more of a liability than an asset.
Any viewing of Manzana Pissarro’s work is a sensual feast created by the magician artist himself. Thanks to him we have a depiction of daily life sprinkled by glistening iridescent colors.
1878 – 1952
Ludovic-Rodolphe Pissarro was Camille Pissarro’s fourth son, and encouraged by his father he began drawing from nature at an early age. He was familiarly known as Rodo and generally signed his works ‘Ludovic-Rodo’.
The impact of Camille’s art and teaching on Rodo was obviously considerable, and his artistic production encompassed a wide range of media, including oil painting, tempera, watercolor, gouache, wood engraving, drawing and lithography. He also exhibited regularly at the Salon des Indépendents over a forty year period.
In 1894, at the age of sixteen, Rodo published his first wood engravings in the anarchist journal, Le Pere Peinard, and when Camille left France for the safety of Belgium during the anarchist upheavals of that year Rodo joined him there.
Rodo moved into his first studio in Montmartre with his brother Georges in 1898 and found the night-life of Paris, and the habitués of the cafes, theaters, circuses and cabarets of the area, compelling subjects for his work. With his younger brother Paulémile he met artists such as Kees Van Dongen, Maurice de Vlaminck and Raoul Dufy, and in 1905 he participated in the first Fauve exhibition at the Salon des Indépendents.
At the outbreak of war in 1914 Rodo moved to England, and over the next few years he lived mainly in and around West London. He worked closely with his brother Lucien to establish, in 1915, the Monarro Group which was formed with the aim of exhibiting work by contemporary artists inspired by Impressionism. Many of the works produced by Rodo while he was in England were of major London landmarks. After 1924, when Rodo had already returned to France, he divided his time between Paris and Les Andelys in Normandy.
Despite his rich artistic heritage and his achievements as an artist, Rodo is perhaps best remembered for his contribution to art history. For twenty years he researched and compiled a catalogue of his father’s paintings – a project that was finally published in two volumes in 1939 and which is still considered to be the definitive reference book on Camille’s work. Rodo told Lucien that the compilation of this catalogue was a fascinating task, revealing as it did “the work of the artist, its highs and lows, its progress as a whole through acquired experience.”
1884 – 1972
As the last child of Camille Pissarro, Paulemile was undoubtedly close to his father. He saw him at the height of his powers, when he was utilizing his lifetime interest in artistic experimentation to create paintings that reflected his fascination with color and movement.
Paulemile was nurtured in an artistic atmosphere where creativity reigned. He enjoyed a childhood watching his father paint, following him around with an easel in the gardens at Eragny, attending school in Gisors, and indulging a growing interest in artistic matters on his own. However, when Paulemile was nineteen, his desire to paint was shattered by the death of his father. The devastating loss took him years to overcome.
Surrendering the dream to become an artist just like his father was extremely difficult for Paulemile. He worked for a while as an automobile mechanic and later as a textile designer. But he couldn’t ignore his passion for art and it soon led him to settle in a region near Chartres, where he began to create watercolors.
With the guidance of Claude Monet, one of his father’s closest friends, Paulemile rediscovered his artistic destiny. Monet urged him to become a landscape painter, to follow the lead of his father and the other Impressionists, and to maintain his family’s legacy.
Around 1914, Paulemile dedicated himself to the life of a painter. He continually enjoyed painting beautiful scenes along the Lieure River, where he was captivated by the light effects that the Impressionists had used. He translated what he saw directly onto the canvas with what could be described as a form of visual shorthand. In the tranquility of the countryside, Paulemile created numerous poetic studies that captured the charms of simple villages, rural farms, the changing seasons, old bridges, and picturesque roadways. He also traveled extensively throughout France, thriving on finding new sites to study, new atmospheric conditions, and subtle nuances of light that could often intensify his colors.
HUGUES CLAUDE PISSARRO
Hugues Claude Pissarro, also known professionally as Isaac Pomié, is the grandson of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and son of the artist Paulemile Pissarro. Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 9 November 1935, steeped in this artistic environment, he inevitably spent his childhood and youth with brushes in his hand. Carrying on a family tradition established by Camille Pissarro, Paulemile, accompanied by his numerous artist friends, frequently took his sons on painting excursions which were to prove formative for H. Claude.
Although he is at present best known for his style of impressionism, Claude experimented with different contemporary movements before confirming his preference for impressionism in later life. Predestined by his educational background to become a professor of art for much of his professional life, his temperament was notably molded by formal training at prestigious French establishments such as the “Ecole du Musée du Louvre” and, in particular, at the “Ecole Normale Supérieure”.
Based in his Normandy studio, Claude maintains a frenetic pace of activity, frequently working well into the night, producing the large canvases, which have become his trademark. His distinctive style is realized by applying colors with great speed straight from the tube to achieve a thick, robust texture and then scraping some of it away once it is dry.
Claude appreciates the advantage that his family legacy has given him in his painting. “My family history helped me in that I had, from the beginning, a certain familiarity with artistic expression. I was born in a painting environment.” Although his family ties have been a blessing to him, Claude also acknowledges the challenges of living under the shadow of this artistic heritage. “I was born into the cult of my grandfather. My methods of investigation clashed with an attitude, which regarded everything connected with my grandfather’s life and work as sacred. At the end of the day, I remove my grandfather from his pedestal. Only then am I able to discover him, meet with him, and get to know and love him.”