In 1874 a group of young painters, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cezanne and others, held the first Impressionist Exhibition; this after a struggle of years in which they broke with the traditional methods of the official Salon in Paris. One of these painters, Pissarro, came to live in Upper Norwood when he fled from France during the Franco-Prussian war. Unfortunately the house no longer exists, but it stood in what is now the rebuilt street of Anerley Vale. His paintings began to sell in London but he returned later to France on hearing that all his work he had left behind had been lost.
These artists held eight Impressionist Exhibitions in all culminating in 1886 when the group disbanded, but by 1881 Pissarro’s paintings were selling well: presumably the idea of ‘Impressionism’ was liked and accepted. He travelled and returned to England a number of times, his son Lucien coming to London to work and later marrying an English girl. Pissarro visited and probably stayed in the house of his daughter-in-law’s parents, which stood in Mowbray Road until about 1960 when maisonettes were built on the site. Pissarro painted a number of landscape pictures of Upper Norwood (including Fox Hill), Beulah Hill, Dulwich and surrounding district. These can be seen in a 2-volume Catalogue edited by L. R. Pissarro and L. Venturi at the Pissarro Collection at the Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford. Pissarro’s works are now in various private collections, some in U.S.A., in Paris etc. and in this connection it will no doubt be remembered that in February, 1966, after the death of Monet’s son in a remote and totally uninsured house in Normandy, a hoard of Impressionist paintings was found, amongst them several by Pissarro.
Pissarro was born in 1830 and in later years eye trouble forced him to paint large landscape scenes. His pictures of Norwood were probably painted in the 1890’s. He died in 1903. His son Lucien was born in 1863, became a landscape painter but is more well-known as a designer of wood-cuts and his work as a book illustrator. Pissarro’s grand-daughter, Miss Grovide Pissarro, is still living* in London, a most interesting and delightful old lady, but now, alas, in rather poor health. Pissarro’s paintings fetch high prices - one sold at Sotheby’s last year*, a French scene dated 1875, for £37,000.
(with acknowledgments to Mrs. Freda Hayr). I.L.E.
*please note that this article appeared in 1967. See also Richard Lines’ article in 2004.
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