Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was one of the leading artists of Impressionist printmaking, creating some 200 etchings and lithographs throughout his life.
He did not make the prints to sell, rather purely for his own enjoyment. Pissarro was keen to experiment with various materials and techniques. In doing so, he pushed the boundaries of printmaking.
Pissarro lived in Pontoise, a village in the countryside of France, where he took advantage of the peace and quiet to capture rural life and the landscapes in his etchings. He saw beauty in the humblest of subjects: a fence, a cow or a peasant woman with a group of geese at the waterside. Vincent van Gogh was a great admirer of Pissarro’s work, because of his modern depictions of peasant life.
Pissarro considered that the process of experimentation was to be more important than the ultimate edition. He printed various states – different versions – of each composition. Pissarro manipulated his etching plate using unconventional materials such as sandpaper and wire brushes, which enabled him to introduce tonal and atmospheric contrasts. He and his fellow Impressionist printmakers wanted to capture the changing effects of nature, such as rain or certain light effects.