Rare Pissarro Exhibition
Camille Pissarro was born on the island of St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies and left the island when he was twelve to attend boarding school in Paris.
When he returned, he sketched and painted beautiful landscapes of his island home.
The Women by the Seaside
In island lingo, ‘pickin wilks’ refers to the action of wading at the seashore gathering whelks, a snail-like delicacy often boiled and served with a butter sauce.
But more commonly, ‘pickin wilks’ is used to refer to shortened or hiked up pants.
Estate Orkanhullet, Haulover, and Hassel Island
British Officers Quarters
- What was Pissarro thinking at the time?
- Was he just struggling to improve his drawing and capture a moment in time?
- Or was he simply enjoying an afternoon by the ocean, cool breeze gently blowing off the water, and getting lost in plein air sketching with his friend and mentor Fritz Melbye?
“He had the good fortune to be born in the Antilles. There he learned to draw without a teacher.”
About the Author
Dr. Dante Beretta grew up in St. Thomas and now lives in Minnesota. He has been researching his Beretta and Dinzey family history which stretches back at least 200 years in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He’s interested in hearing comments on this story and from anyone interested in finding or indexing the records now available online at the Danish Archives. You may click on his name to send him an email message. To see additional stories by Dr. Beretta, visit this link ==>Beretta Family Stories
Marian Czukoski says
Thank you for sharing your insight, particularly into the thoughts and feelings Pissarro may have had as he rendered this sketch. My Mom was an artist. I’ve found many of her sketches preceding her actual paintings and wondered some of the same things you did. I’m certainly not comparing her work to this famous painter; just pondering. Granny always referred to “Signal Hill”. It meant a lot to her as her father was a famous captain. From this writing I’ve learned some historical facts you’ve written about the island from the sketch at the artist’s vantage point. Even at this point in my life it’s always great to know more about our birthplace. Sincerely, Marian Czukoski