A close friend of many of the Impressionists, particularly Van Gogh, Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin would come to be known as the longest surviving yet least known member of the school.
Born to a family of no significant financial means Guillaumin would work in his uncle's lingerie shop, and then take a job on the Paris-Orleans railway, while trying to continue his studies in his evenings and spare time. In 1861 he was able to attend the Academie Suisse where he would first meet Paul Cezanne and Camille Pissarro, with whom he would remain friends for the rest of his life.
The three would often travel and paint together, and by 1863 Guillaumin would exhibit his first painting at the Salon des Refuses. Over the next years his work would appear in almost every Impressionist exhibition as well. He did not find favor with all of his Impressionist peers however, due for the most part to his brilliant palette and his exuberant use of color. Both Degas and Monet frowned on his preferences.
Unlike his peers, Guillaumin did not find quick success with his painting and was forced to continue working in order to support his family. This is perhaps one of the primary reasons his artistic success could not keep up with many of the other Impressionists who were painting for a living, and not only in their spare time.
In the 1870s he, Pissarro and Cezanne met Gachet, who encouraged the young artists to try their hands at etching. All three found a deep affinity with the process, and produced several remarkable prints from these early experimentations.
A fellow Impressionist who strongly approved of Guillaumin's palette was his friend Vincent Van Gogh, who he met in the 1880s. Both employed strong brush work and bold colors to their canvases. The two painters are frequently compared to the "Fauvists" for their use of brilliant blocks of color and their emotional enthusiasm.
Finally, Guillaumin's chance to dedicate his time completely to his art came in 1891 when he worn the Loterie Nationale. From that point forward his production increased dramatically.
Though not fantastically successful during his life, Guillaumin's canvases are on display in museums throughout the world. His most popular subjects are his landscapes of Paris, Creuse, and the Mediterranean coast.