Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro was born on July 10, 1830, on St Thomas, in the Danish West Indies. His father was a French citizen of Portuguese Jewish descent, and his mother, who had previously been married to her new husband’s uncle, was Creole. The marriage was controversial, probably due to racial factors, and as a consequence the Pissarro children were compelled to attend the all-black local school rather than the Jewish school.
At the age of 12, Pissarro left St. Thomas to attend boarding school in France. There, he developed an early appreciation of the French art masters. Although he initially pursued a career in business, Pissarro never stopped drawing and painting in his spare time.