Camille Pissarro, the Impressionist painter of French descent, was born in 1830 on the island of St Thomas in the Danish West Indies. At the age of twelve he went to Europe where he attended a Paris boarding school. During his time in Paris he studied at various academic institutions including the École des Beaux Arts and Académie Suisse and under a succession of masters such as Corot and Courbet. In the 1860’s he, along with Monet, became involved in the Impressionist Movement and spent most of his time painting urban and rural pictures which illustrated French life of that era, particularly in the area around Pontoise. Pissarro died in Paris in November 1903 and was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
Painted in 1877, today’s painting is entitled The Red Roofs and is a small (55 x 85cms) oil on canvas picture which hangs in the Musée d’Orsay. The location for this painting is a group of farm buildings called La Côte des Boeufs, near Pontoise. The painting is complicated by the fact that the artist wanted to show the buildings as seen through the trees but the screen of trees makes us look quickly beyond the trees, into the heart of the painting, and by doing so one can differentiate the many layers of colour.