Camille Pissarro was born in a Jewish-Portuguese family. He grew up in St Thomas in the US, then Danish West Indies. His parents owned a modest general hardware store and encouraged their sons to take over the family business. In 1842, Camille was sent away to complete his education in a boarding school near Paris. The school headmaster developed an artistic vision in Camille and encouraged him to draw directly from nature and observed his paintings. At the age of 17, Camille returned to St Thomas to take over the family business, but soon he got bored and began to draw ships in his free time.
In the 1850s, Camille left the family business when he met the Danish painter Fritz Melbye. He wanted to become a painter, which showed the dedication of Camille to art, and it contributed to his poverty. In 1855 Camille returned to Paris, where he was exposed to artworks of many artists. He began to work with one of Corot's artists, who inspired him to submit to the Salon. In Duringbus classes at the Academie Suisse, he met Cezanne, who became his closest friend. In 1861, Camille registered himself as a copyist at the Musee du Louvre, and at that time, he met Julie Vellay. Camille got married to Julie in London in 1871. They had eight children together, and one of his daughters died due to tuberculosis in 1874 at the age of 10. This loss disturbed Camille leading him to paint series on the last year of her life.
Camille started submitting to the Salon in the 1860s. His landscapes reflected his knowledge and exposure to the French masters. At that time, Camille was closer to the impressionist circle. He spent most of his time in Louvciennes, favored impressionist artist. Far from the urban environment, he painted peasant subjects and focused on light effects and atmospheric conditions due to changes in the seasons.
The first half of the 1870s was the best period for Camille's career when he produced some popular pieces. From 1870 to 1781, he traveled to London to escape the chaos of the Paris commune and war. During that time majority of his artworks were destroyed. He found out that among the 1500 paintings which he had done over 20 years, out of that, only 40 remained. The soldiers destroyed the rest. It is believed that most of his paintings were in the impressionist style.
In London, he met Claude Monet, who was a very popular artist at that time. After returning to Paris, Camille and Monet organized the first impressionist exhibition in 1874. The exhibition received harsh criticism and confusion from the viewers and critics. The critics found faults in the paintings on many grounds. The subject matter for the painting was considered vulgar, with the streets of people doing their everyday work, demonstrating muddy, dirty scenes. The painting looked incomplete and too sketchy compared to the paintings of that time. The color of the painting used by the impressionist was often unseen and reflected the light of the surroundings.
Impressionism was widely accepted, and Camille worked to keep his art Avant grade and relevant. He tested many theoretical concepts and made prints based on the techniques of Japanese woodblock. He worked with the neo-impressionist painters Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. In his older age, Camille suffered from an eye infection that prevented him from working outdoors and could only work in warm weather. Due to his disability, he started painting outdoor scenes while sitting in a hotel room. He often chose the upper level of a hotel room to get a better view.
Camille died in November 1903, and he was buried under Lachaise cemetery.