Camille Pissarro was always primarily a landscape painter, and his early style was informed by the conventions of the French Salons and the work of Barbizon school painters such as Corot and Millet. In the years covered by the exhibit, Pissarro's style evolves from the very finished and formal to the freer and more conceptual style that would come to be known as Impressionism. The exhibit culminates with three of the five paintings Pissarro selected to include in the "Exhibition Anonymee" of 1874 that resulted in the "Impressionist" title being given to the style.
Pissarro is sometimes referred to as the "Father" of Impressionism. He contrbuted much to the philosophy of the movement, remained a close friend and collaborator with Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Degas, and acted as a mentor to Cezanne and Gauguin.
The paintings selected for the exhibit do show a fascinating evolution of a painter's style and vision. Pissarro's insistence on painting the local rural landscape means that the works do not tend toward the spectacular or to wild beauty. Instead they are warm, subtle, and realistic despite the looser technique. These are the works of an artist passionately involved in the work of painting, of testing permutations of technique with an almost scientific exhaustiveness.
I am a particular fan of the Impressionists (Renoir is my favorite painter) but I had not known the important role Pissarro had had in the evolution of the school. Therefore, I found this exhibit very educational, as well as beautiful to look at.
The exhibition continues through September 9, and is well worth seeing for those interested in the history of modern art.