Paul-Emile Pissarro (1884-1972)
Paulémile Pissarro, Camille’s youngest son, was born in Eragny in 1884. He was bought up in the artistic environment of the family home there and, encouraged by his father, began drawing at an early age. Paulémile’s godfather was Claude Monet who became his teacher and close friend, particularly after Camille’s death in 1903.
In 1905, Paulémile exhibited at the “Salon des Independants” for the first time, showing an impressionist landscape entitled Bords de l’Epte à Eragny, and although his father had supported his desire to be an artist, his mother was eager for him to learn a more practical trade. In 1908 he put aside his artistic pursuits and worked as an automobile mechanic and test-driver, and then as a lace and textile designer, thus allowing him a little time to paint. While Paulémile was still working at the lace factory his brother Lucien, who lived in London, asked him to send over some watercolours, and the sale of these encouraged Paulémile to leave the factory and dedicate himself to painting.
By the 1920s, Paulémile had become an established Post Impressionist artist in his own right, sharing a studio with Kees Van Dongen and spending the summer months escaping from Paris with him and Maurice de Vlaminck. In 1924 he moved to Lyons-la-Foret, a small town near Eragny, where he painted his surroundings with great pleasure, returning again and again to the placid waters of the River Epte winding its way among willows, meadows and hills.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s Paulémile reached the peak of his artistic development, arriving at the individual style for which he is now best known. In 1930 he visited an area called Swiss Normandy and instantly fell in love with this part of the Calvados region, and especially with the River Orne that runs through the valley adjacent to the villages of Clécy and le Vey. The combination of blue hills and green meadows, separated by the calm waters of the river, offered Paulémile a new setting for his work and, in 1935, he moved to Clécy with his second wife Yvonne Beaupel, where he remained until his death.
In 1967 he had his first one-man show in the United States at Wally Findlay Galleries in New York. This led to widespread recognition and a degree of professional success that few Pissarro artists had known during their lifetime. Since his death in 1972, Paulémile’s paintings have been exhibited around the world, and interest in his work continues to grow.