“In Lucien’s finished, considered pictures, there is an abundant evidence of a slow, absorbed search to express the structure of a landscape and the forms which are part of it, a striving for an architectural quality.” W.S. Meadmore from Lucien Pissarro.
Lucien Pissarro was born in Paris, the eldest son of Camille Pissarro. In 1870 the family fled to London because of the Franco-Prussian war; when he returned to Louveciennes a year later he found his former residence torn apart. In 1878 Pissarro worked for some dealers in English fabrics in Paris, but this work did not suit him and he returned to his family and went to work for his father, preparing exhibitions. Pissarro spent a year in London in 1883, learning English and developing his painting. Then, back in France, Pissarro studied wood-engraving under Auguste Lepere and later concentrated on illustration.
In 1886 Pissarro befriended Van Gogh who dedicated the painting ‘Still-life with Apples’ to him. This same year, Pissarro exhibited his work in the final Impressionist group show as well as the Societé des Indépendants in Paris. This was the first of many exhibitions with the Indépendants. Pissarro lived mainly in England over the next few years and established the Eragny Press in 1894. Lucien exhibited with the New English Art Club twice in 1905 and a year later joined their ranks and was to exhibit there almost every year for the rest of his life. In 1916 he became a British citizen. Three years later he formed the Monarro Group with J.B. Manson as Secretary in England and Theo van Rysselberghe in Paris. The aim of the group was to exhibit those artists who were inspired by the leading Impressionists, Monet and Pissarro, however, it lasted only three years. He continued to exhibit his work regularly with the final show, ‘Three Generations of Pissarro’ occurring at the Leicester Galleries in 1943 a year before his death.
Although Lucien’s career was overshadowed by his more celebrated father, his many landscapes stand as the vital link between Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism. He experimented with pointillism at first, with paintings such as ‘The Church of Eragny’ (1887) but soon found his style with his landscapes, simple yet lyrical in their expression of beauty and perfection. He was fascinated with the structure of a landscape, bringing his skills as a printer to the representation of the English and French countryside.