Impressionist Painters
Artists of Impressionism in Europe, America, Australia.

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Annecy Lake (1896)
Courtauld Institute Galleries.
By Paul Cezanne. One of the
greatest modern paintings.

Impressionist Painters (c.1840-1920)


French Impressionists
German Impressionists
Dutch Impressionists
British Impressionists
Best Impressionist Paintings

Gare St Lazare (1877)
Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
By Claude Monet.

For details of colour pigments
used by Impressionist painters, see:
Nineteenth Century Colour palette.

Going Home (1889)
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
By Charles Conder.

Origins and Influences
Early History
Monet & Pissarro in London
Impressionist Painting Developments
Impressionist Exhibitions
Group Splits
Legacy of Impressionism


Impressionism was the most important art movement of the 19th century, and its impact extended throughout the world until well into the 20th century. The name derives from a painting exhibited by Claude Monet in 1874, catalogued as "Impression Sunrise". There is no precise definition of the style. Exponents seek to capture the visual impression of a scene, rather than its objective characteristics, and focus on depicting the instantaneous effect of light. (For more, see: Characteristics of Impressionist Painting 1870-1910.)

In Monet's words, an Impressionist painting is "a spontaneous work, rather than a calculated one." This may be somewhat idealistic, as many artists eventually forsook plein-air painting in favour of studio work. Even so, there is a hurried, almost unfinished look about many Impressionist masterpieces.

Although the movement began quite inauspiciously in Paris, and initially involved only a small number of painters - who exhibited as a group only seven times (1874-82) - it rapidly attracted the efforts of other Parisian artists (many of whom eventually turned to Post-Impressionism or Expressionism) before going on to influence artists across the globe - from Philadelphia to Sydney.

The top showcase for Impressionism is the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

For details of colour pigments
used by Impressionist painters
in oils and watercolours, see:
Nineteenth Century Colour palette.

For details of the best modern
painters, since 1800, see:
Famous Painters (1830-2010)

For a list of the Top 10 painters/
sculptors: Best Artists of All Time.

French Impressionists

The Top 8

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
Failed the entrance exams to the French Academy of Fine Arts. Befriended by Pissarro, he exhibited with the group only twice (1874 and 1877) before pursuing his own style of Post-Impressionism.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Unlike most others, he had independent means and did not need to sell his works to survive. Even so, he became the greatest figure painter of the movement.
Edouard Manet (1832-83)
After Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe and Olympia were both rejected by the Salon, he became the hero of the younger (Impressionist) generation of Parisian painters. Remained a classicist at heart, and spent the rest of his life repairing his links with the Salon. Regarded as the Father of modern painting in France.
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Acknowledged leader of French Impressionism. Devoted to plein-airism in his lifelong pursuit to master the depiction of light, he is best known for his water lily series of paintings, created in his garden at Giverny.
Berthe Morisot (1841-95)
A pupil of Corot, she met Manet, married his brother Eugene, and exhibited in all but one of the group's exhibitions. Regarded as the greatest female Impressionist. Her daughter married the French Expressionist Georges Rouault.
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Studied at the French Academy of Fine Arts, was a lifelong anarchist, and plein-air painter of cityscapes and landscapes.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Originally a porcelain-decorator, he took lessons at Charles Gleyre's studio, where he met Monet, Bazille and Sisley. Exhibited at numerous Impressionist shows, and also at the Salon (1879). Became the movement's greatest painter of 'dappled light' before going his own way in the 1880s.
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Born in Paris to English parents, he took part in five of the group's exhibitions, remaining (with Monet and Pissarro) a faithful exponent of outdoor Impressionism for the rest of his life. See: Impressionist Landscape Painting.



Other French Impressionists

Frederic Bazille (1841-70)
Rich young friend and painting associate of Monet, Renoir and Sisley. Influenced by Manet, he subsidized Renoir, and appears in Monet's Dejeuner sur l'Herbe.
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Abandoned a legal career to become a painter. Member of the decorative art group Les Nabis with Paul Serusier (1864-1927), Mauris Denis (1870-1943) and others, before founding an 'interiors' style known as Intimism with his close friend Edouard Vuillard (1869-1940).
Eugene Boudin (1824-98)
Studied under Corot, exhibited at the Salon, and encouraged Monet to take up plein air painting. Exhibited at the first Impressionist show, as gesture of support.
Gustave Caillebotte (1848-94)
Exhibited with the group in five shows, and bought 70 of their paintings.
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Quit his career as a stockbroker to become a painter. Associated initially with Pissarro, and exhibited at four of the group's shows in the 1880s. Later took up a symbolist form of Post-Impressionist painting, under the influence of Emile Bernard, Van Gogh and the South Seas.
Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927)
An active and proficient member of the Impressionist circle. He studied with Pissarro and Cezanne, and dug ditches to make ends meet. Won 100,000 francs in the Paris lottery, in 1891.
Georges Seurat (1859-1891)
Showed his masterpiece Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte (1884, Art Institute Of Chicago) at the 1886 Impressionist exhibition. In 1884, with Signac, he founded the Societe des Artistes Independents.
Paul Signac (1863-1935)
A painter and the leading colour theorist of Neo-Impressionism, he persuaded Seurat to employ the colour pigment techniques of Pointillism which he himself developed further after Seurat's death.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Short of stature and crippled in an accident during his youth, he was greatly influenced by Manet, Degas and Van Gogh. Showed a number of his wonderful Parisian music hall pictures with the Impressionists at the Salon des Independents in 1889.
Edouard Vuillard (1869-1940)
A member of Les Nabis, with Bonnard, he developed his own style of quiet Impressionistic-interiors, known as Intimism.

German Impressionists

Adolph Menzel (1815-1905)
Seminal painter whose spontaneous depiction of light and atmosphere was a precursor of later German Impressionism.
Max Liebermann (1847-1935)
Studied at Weimar's Academy of Fine Art and afterwards in Paris under the Barbizon painters. Then strongly influenced by Impressionism, he settled in Berlin where he painted (and collected) Impressionist works.
Lovis Corinth (1858-1925)
Took a degree at the Konigsberg Academy of Art, then studied in Paris and Munich before settling in Berlin as a member of the Berlin Sezession movement. Became one of the most influential German Impressionists, before turning more to expressionism in the wake of a stroke in 1911.
Max Slevogt (1868-1932)
Like Corinth, went to Berlin to join the Sezession movement. Became an important German Impressionist artist, specializing in portraits and genre pictures of theatres and concert halls.

For more, see German Art, 19th Century.

Dutch Impressionists

Johan-Barthold Jongkind (1819-91)
Much older than the others, Jongkind came to Paris as a landscape painter in 1846. He was also a regular painter of the Normandy coast. In 1863, he showed at the Salon des Refuses in Paris, making a noticeable impact on the Impressionists who saw a kindred spirit in his spontaneous style of painting. For later Dutch painters who practised a modern French 'light' Impressionism, see: Post-Impressionism in Holland (1880-1920).

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
Moved in 1886 to Paris where he lived with his brother Theo, one of the few art dealers who appreciated the likes of Degas, Gauguin, Seurat and Toulouse-Lautrec. Under their influence, Van Gogh brightened up his palette, and ultimately left to set up a studio for progressive artists in the South of France. During his last few years, his painting shifted to a more expressionist style, becoming more frenzied, more impastoed and even more brilliant in colour.

British Impressionists

Walter Sickert (1860-1942)
A pupil of Whistler and greatly influenced by the drawing skill of his friend Degas. The leading British Impressionist painter, with a subdued palette, he founded the Camden Town Group in 1911, and was a close associate of Camille Pissarro's son Lucien (1863-1944), Frederick Spencer Gore (1878-1914) the Impressionist and first President of the Camden Town Group, and Harold Gilman (1876-1919) the British Post-Impressionist.

Philip Wilson Steer (1860-1942)
Progressive British painter whose 1890s beach scenes and seascapes had a fresh and sparkling Impressionist manner during the early 1890s, before turning to a more conventional style of art after Gainsborough and Constable, and ultimately to watercolours.


Danish/Swedish Impressionists

P.S. Kroyer (1851-1909)
Norwegian-born Danish Impressionist, leader of Skagen artist colony. Noted for Hip Hip Hurrah! Artists Party at Skagen (1888, Goteborgs Konstmuseum, Sweden), and Summer Evening on Skagen's South Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Kroyer (1893, Skagen Museum).

Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916)
A pupil of P.S. Kroyer, Hammershoi is the greatest Impressionist genre-painter from Denmark, noted for his quiet interiors in muted colours and tones.

Anders Zorn (1860-1920)
The greatest Swedish Impressionist, noted for his society portraits and female nudes.

American Impressionists

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
After flunking West Point, he went to Paris at 21 to study painting. Along with Manet, Pissarro, Guillaumin, Fantin-Latour, Jongkind and Cezanne, he showed at the Salon des Refuses in 1863. Although never an Impressionist proper, his atmospheric Nocturnes were strongly Impressionistic in mood, and paved the way for the emergence of American Impressionism proper.

Mark Fisher (1841-1923)
American painter from Boston who studied under Charles Gleyre with Monet, Sisley and Bazille. Settled in London where he rapidly established a busy practice.

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
Daughter of a wealthy Pittsburgh banker, she trained at the Pittsburgh Academy of Arts and afterwards in Paris, where - at the invitation of Degas - she exhibited with the group after 1879. She became the leading American female Impressionist painter, as well as an important source of contacts between painters and American collectors. Sadly, she abandoned painting after being struck by blindness in 1914.

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)
Early exponent of Impressionism in America, he was known for his park scenes, his portraiture and, above all, for his outstanding contribution to the teaching of art, in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Theodore Robinson (1852-96)
An early exponent of Impressionism, Robinson spent almost a decade in France, where he became a close friend of Claude Monet. Had a conservative style of Impressionism, in which the importance of drawing was never forgotten, but he produced some of the great masterpieces of American Impressionist painting. Best known for his landscapes, genre works and Connecticut boat scenes.

John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902)
Ohio-born Munich and Paris-trained Impressionist landscape painter, influenced by Whistler, Japanese art, and French Impressionism, Twachtman had a personal style of painting which allowed him to infuse his canvases with a range of emotional reactions.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
A strong adherent of Impressionism, though also influenced by Old Master portraitists such as Velazquez and Frans Hals, his rapid virtuoso dexterity lent itself perfectly to the spontaneity of the style. One of the greatest of 19th century portrait artists. See also Impressionist Portraits.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Trained in Boston and then in Paris (1886-9), where he adopted the techniques and colour palette of the Impressionists. Afterwards he settled in New York and became the first artist to import Impressionism into America. A foremost exponent of the style, he was (like Cassatt before him) given a one-man show at the prestigious Paul Durand-Ruel gallery in Paris, in 1901.

J. Alden Weir (1852-1919)
American painter noted for his Impressionist landscapes, and his more conservative still lifes, flower paintings and portraiture. A close friend of Twachtman, he became President of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors.

The Ten (c.1898-1919)
This American Impressionist group consisted of ten progressive painters from Boston and New York, most of whom had studied in Paris, who exhibited together in a series of shows between 1898 and 1919. Members included: Childe Hassam, Frank W. Benson (1862-1951), Joseph R de Camp (1858-1923), Thomas W. Dewing (1851-1938), William L. Metcalf (1858-1925), Robert Reid (1862-1929), John H Twachtman (1853-1902), Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938), Edward E. Simmons (1852-1931), William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), and Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919).

Russian Impressionists

Ivan Shishkin (1832-98)
Russian forest painter, more naturalist than Impressionist.
Ivan Kramskoy (1837–1887)
Outstanding Impressionistic portraitist and genre painter.
Ilya Repin (1844–1930)
Arguably the greatest all-round Russian painter of the Impressionist era.
Isaac Levitan (1860-1900)
Arguably the greatest Russian landscape painter.
Valentin Serov (1865–1911)
Portraitist. One of the great 'Itinerant' painters.

Italian/Spanish Impressionists

An early form of Impressionism in Italy is represented in works by Giovanni Fattori (1825–1908), Silvestro Lega (1826–95), Serafino da Tivoli (1826-92), Giuseppe Abbati (1836-68) and Telemaco Signorini (1835–1901), all of whom were associated with the Macchiaioli painting movement. In Spain, the leading Impressionist was the Catalan painter Joaquin Sorolla Y Bastida (1863-1923).

Australian Impressionists

Tom Roberts (1856-1931)
The Father of Australian landscape painting, he was the first artist to import Impressionism into Australia (1885), following a short European tour. Became a successful portraitist as well as one of the first Aussie plein air painters. For details, see: Heidelberg School (c.1886-1900) of Australian Impressionism.
John Peter Russell (1858-1930)
A contemporary of Roberts, he studied at Slade Art College in London, and afterwards became friendly with Van Gogh in Paris, where he mixed with the Cloisonnism painters Louis Anquetin, and Emile Bernard and the sculptor Rodin. Strongly influenced by Monet, whom he met several times, he returned finally to Sydney in 1908, and was swallowed up by obscurity.
Arthur Streeton (1867-1943)
The most successful of the Heidelberg painters and the greatest landscape artist in the group.
Fred McCubbin (1855-1917)
An early member of the Heidelberg School, though his duties as drawing master at the school of design in Melbourne limited his activity as a plein-air painter; became a founding member of the Australian Art Association.
Charles Conder (1868-1909)
English-born painter, lithographer and fan-designer; an early member of the Heidelberg group, and a close friend of Roberts in the late 1880s.

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