Despite difficult family circumstances, painting by day and often working by night (as the only member of the future Renoir group to be the son of proletarians), the debuts of the young Armand Guillaumin are linked to the development of the Impressionist movement.
In 1861 he met Cézanne and especially Pissarro who became a loyal friend up to the end. In 1868 he painted the working-class suburbs of Paris (Bercy, Ivry, Vanves) and in 1874 he participated in Nadar’s first Impressionist exhibition with Monet, Sisley and Renoir.
Until 1886 he was present at the majority of Impressionist exhibitions.
Gauguin purchased his canvasses. Van Gogh, who admired his work, became a friend and was influenced by his work. They exhibited together at Theo Van Gogh’s gallery. In 1891 he won 100,000 francs in a lottery and rented a house in Crozant in the Creuse region.
His landscapes of this region are famous (particularly the white frost). His bold and free sense of colour, his purples and violets, the blond light that often characterizes his landscapes had a certain influence on the future Fauves, in particular, Friesz, whom he met in 1901.
In the first years of the 20th Century he spent his winters at Agay where he painted the red rocks. He appreciated rocky terrain, the wildness of Esterel, the glassy lapping of the sea.
As the author of powerful and original work, with a free and independent spirit himself, he was hostile to any type of showy publicity and his audience, during his lifetime, was a lot more discreet than that of his friends. This explains why he is still the most affordable of the great Impressionists.