Paulémile Pissarro was born on August 22, 1884 in Eragny, the fifth and youngest son of Camille Pissarro. Brought up in an artistic household, inevitably he began drawing at an early age. At the age of fifteen he attended a college in Gisors, but left after a few months in order to join his father on painting trips to Le Havre, Dieppe and Rouen. For the last few years of Camille’s life the family lived in Paris, where Paulémile attended a private art academy.
Following his father’s death in 1903, Paulémile returned to Eragny with his mother. Monet, who lived only twenty miles away at Giverny, became his tutor, guardian and friend. Monet encouraged him to paint and gave him lessons in art and in horticulture. In 1905 Paulémile exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendants, showing an Impressionist landscape.
It was during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s that Paulémile reached the peak of his artistic development. During this period he abandoned the pure colors and divided brush strokes of Impressionism for mixed tones and broader gestures. His compositions became strong and clear, and his application tighter and thicker. In addition, Cézanne’s long-term influence on Paulémile’s work became evident in his green-gold palette and classical compositions, and later in his use of a palette knife instead of paintbrushes.
In 1930 Paulémile visited the hills and valleys known as Swiss Normandy. He instantly fell in love with the Orne, a river that runs adjacent to the villages of Clécy and LeVey. The blue hills and green meadows, separated by the calm waters of the river, offered him a new setting for his work. Working from a boat equipped as a floating studio, he could focus on his favorite subject, reflections on calm water.