Left to right: Portrait of the Artist's Son Lucien, 1874 by his father. Source: Pissarro, facing p.32. (b) Portrait of the Artist's Son Lucien, 1883, by his father. Source: Pissarro, facing p. 33. (c) Lucien Pissarro by William Strang, 1920
Lucien Pissarro was born in Paris on 20 February 1863, the eldest son of the artist Camille Pissarro and Julie Vallay. His father, born on the Virgin Islands when they were under Danish rule, was of Franco-Portuguese Jewish descent, while his mother, who had been a maid in the family home, came from Burgundy. Having faced opposition to their relationship, the couple married only in 1871, when living in exile in Surrey during the Franco-Prussian war. He was close to his father, starting to draw at a very early age (see Rewald 11) and eventually following him into the art-world and exhibiting alongside him — the first of Pissarro's sons to do so (see Rewal 15).
Seven years old when he first crossed the Channel with his parents, Lucien returned to England twice in early manhood, and settled here permanently in 1890. On 11 August 1892, he married Esther Bensusan (1871–1951), the daughter of a Jewish merchant in London. Esther had also trained as an artist, and the two set up their own press together in 1894, in the house Pissarro rented in Epping. The Eragny Press, called after the village where Lucien's family lived in France, produced "thirty-one fine books uniquely distinguished by their illustrations and initial letters in which the combination of firm contour, taut composition, and delicate colour enriched with gold leaf recalls the art of medieval illumination" (Baron).
Despite having suffering several strokes in 1897, Pissarro eventually resumed his painting, becoming a founder member of the Camden Town Group in 1911, and spending more time on this side of his work after closing the Eragny Press in 1914. "Over his lifetime," says Wendy Baron, "his technique and style remained consistent in its impressionist derivation. Using a palette of fresh, clean colours, he painted over 550 landscapes of England and France in a close-textured web of separated brushmarks, representing light, shadow, and local colour." However, Baron adds, his paintings later "became less densely worked, drier in texture, and chalkier in colour; and he abjured varnish."
Although he kept strong ties with France, Pissarro took British citizenship in 1916. He died in Hewood, Dorset on 11 July 1944, after several years of poor health. He was survived by his wife and their daughter, the artist Orovida Pissarro (1893-1968). — Jacqueline Banerjee
Baron, Wendy. "Pissarro, Lucien Camille (1863–1944), artist and printer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 11 August 2020.
"Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944)." Stern Pissarro Gallery. Web. 11 August 2020.
Pissarro, Camille. Letters to his Son Lucien. Ed. John Rewald with the assistance of Lucien Pissarro. 2nd ed. New York: Pantheon, 1943. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Guggenheim Library. Web. 11 August 2020.
Rewald, John. Introduction. Letters to his Son Lucien. Ed. Rewald with the assistance of Lucien Pissarro. 2nd ed. New York: Pantheon, 1943. 11-17. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Guggenheim Library. Web. 11 August 2020.
Created 11 August 2020