Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro was born on July 10, 1830, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies. He is well known for his contributions in the field of art. He was an impressionist painter. Impressionist artists paint an impression of what the landscape, person or object looks like to them. Camille Pissarro grew up in a house in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The building is still standing today and is called Pissarro Building. It is on Main Street. Camille Pissarro went away to boarding school when he was around 12 years old. He returned to St. Thomas at around 17 years old to help with his family’s business. He later moved from St. Thomas to Venezuela, and then to France, pursuing a life in art. He died in France on November 13, 1903. His paintings often depict countryside landscapes and working-class people.
In this activity, students will use the questions from an Analyze Artwork worksheet to meet artwork by Camille Pissarro. They will point out aspects of the environment shown in the painting, consider areas of their home island that are like the one shown in the painting, and learn a little about the artist and his connection to the US Virgin Islands.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
Before beginning this activity, help students to understand what a primary source is, and discuss how artwork is a primary source.
Load the Pissarro artwork onto an interactive smart board and have students make observations together. If there is not a smart board, students can work in small groups at computers.
Also load the Analyze Artwork worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions on the worksheet.
Analyze the Primary Source
Using the questions from the Analyze Artwork worksheet, lead students through the painting analysis and a discussion about the details they observe in the painting by Camille Pissarro of a landscape in St. Thomas. You may load the Analyze Artwork worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions, print the worksheet and distribute to your students, or adapt the questions from the worksheet to create your own. Primary Source Analysis Worksheets
Meet the Artwork.
Observe its parts.
Try to make sense of it.
Use it as historical evidence.
After completing the worksheet, continue with a class discussion about the artwork.
Do the students like the artwork? Why? What tells them it is set in a warm climate? Do they recognize any of the plants in the painting?
If students are on St. Thomas, the teacher can ask them to think of a place on St. Thomas that is most like this landscape? If students are on St. Croix, St. John or Water Island, ask students if there is somewhere on their respective island that resembles the landscape in the painting?
When students have finished observing the painting, ask them if they know who is Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro? What do they know about him? The teacher can help the students understand who Camille Pissarro was and his ties to St. Thomas using information in the About section.
Have students draw a landscape of an area near their home. When finished, ask your students: Did you choose the same colors and style as did Pissarro? Why?