Pissarro was born in 1830 in Saint Thomas, a colony of the Danish Colonial Empire in the Dutch West Indies. As a start to his artistic career, Pissarro accompanied the artist Fritz Melbye to Caracas between 1853–5. In 1855 he moved to Paris to begin his formal study of art, first at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, followed by work at the Académie Suisse where he met Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne.
Pissarro was an influential member of the Impressionists and the most consistent supporter of the group, being the only artist to contribute to each of their exhibitions. His artistic approach was guided by a belief in independent, collaborative exhibitions, and a consistent aim to record the sensations and experience of looking at nature. Diverse in his practice, he was a painter, etcher and lithographer, experimenting with many styles throughout his career.
Pissarro staged his first dedicated exhibition in Paris in 1883. At the time of the Franco-German war in 1870 he moved to London, as did his contemporary, Monet. He settled for a number of years at Pontoise, where he drew a circle of influential artists around him, including Paul Cézanne and Paul Gaugain. From 1893, he produced a series of views of Paris, Rouen, Dieppe and Le Havre, which are considered to be among his finest works.
Pissarro’s work can be found in many of the most important museums and private collections throughout the world. The largest collection of his drawings is in Oxford.