French painter. A leading member of the Impressionists, he experimented with various styles, including pointillism, in the 1880s. Though he is closely linked with pictures of the French countryside and peasant life, he also painted notable street scenes, as in Boulevard Montmartre (1897; Hermitage, St Petersburg).
Born in the West Indies, he went to Paris in 1855. He studied at the Académie Suisse, where he met Claude Monet, and was influenced, like most young painters of the time, by Corot and Courbet. His early work, subdued in tone and simple in composition, already showed the feeling of open air which he developed in country retreat at Pontoise and Louveciennes before 1870.
During the Franco-Prussian war 1870–71, when his house was occupied and most of his pictures destroyed, he was in England with Monet, living in south London and painting pictures of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham and Upper Norwood. On his return he pursued a course parallel to Monet's, rendering light with colour, with blues, purples and greens prevailing.
He settled at Eragny in 1884, but made frequent visits to Le Havre, Rouen, and Paris, resulting in pictures of the boulevards of the capital and waterfronts, though his most typical paintings represent the quiet countryside and its peasants.
He was consistent in style, though under the influence of Seurat he practised a systematic division of colour 1886–88.
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