Best Impressionist Paintings
List of the Greatest Pictures of Impressionism.

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The Boulevard Montmartre At Night,
National Gallery, London (1897).
By Camille Pissarro.
A masterpiece of late 19th century
French painting.

POSTERS OF IMPRESSIONISM
Paintings by the Impressionists
are widely available online
in the form of poster art.

The Best Impressionist Paintings

Contents

Origins and Characteristics
Development and Exhibitions
List of the Greatest Impressionist Paintings
French | Russian | Scandinavian | German
Dutch | British | Irish | American | Australian

Origins and Characteristics

Impressionism - arguably the world's most popular art movement - started as a style of plein air painting, whose aim was the realistic depiction of light: thus if the setting sun turned grass red, then red it would be painted. Its characteristic loose brushwork, along with its bold non-naturalist colour, shocked most spectators. The Impressionism style began in Paris, before spreading across Europe and to America. (See: Origins of Impressionism.)


Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1899)
Petit Palais, Musee des Beaux-Arts
de la Ville de Paris.
By Paul Cezanne.

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Rue de la Machine, Louveciennes (1873)
Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
By Alfred Sisley.

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The nucleus of the early Impressionist group included: Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Edouard Manet (1832-83), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Jean-Frederic Bazille (1841-70), Berthe Morisot (1841-95), Pierre Renoir (1841-1919), and Gustave Caillebotte (1848-94). Important influences on the origins and early development of the movement included the Romantic landscape painter Camille Corot (1796-1875) and the Le Havre-born artist Eugene Boudin (1824-98), as well as the activities of the Barbizon School of landscape painting. (See: Impressionism: Early History.)

Impressionism takes its name from a highly negative review of written by the French art critic Louis Leroy, who visited the group's first exhibition in 1874 and who used the title of a painting by Monet as the title for his hostile review, "The Exhibition of the Impressionists". Although the show was appreciated by the Parisian avant-garde, more conservative artists, along with most critics and members of the public were shocked by the loose brushwork and unfinished appearance of the canvases on display.


The Blue Dancers (1899)
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
Moscow.

MODERN ARTISTS
For a list of painters from
the 19th century onwards,
see: Modern Artists.

EVOLUTION OF VISUAL ART
For details of art movements
and styles, see: History of Art.
For a chronological guide to
key events in the development
of visual arts around the globe
see: History of Art Timeline.

Development and Exhibitions

The founder-members of Impressionism developed in different ways. Monet, Sisley, and to a lesser extent Pissarro, remained the principal exponents of outdoor landscape painting. Monet, in particular, devoted his life to the portrayal of light on canvas, focusing on a number of favourite themes (haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, Water-Lilies). Meantime, Renoir turned increasingly to studio work, while Degas and Cezanne pursued more independent agendas. All, except for Sisley, painted a number of exceptional portraits and self-portraits. (See: Impressionist Painting Developments.)

In all, the Impressionists held eight exhibitions in Paris during the 12-year period 1874-86. Despite the artistic success of the group, it fails to attract sufficient numbers of buyers. Only the efforts of wealthy artist-collectors (Bazille, Caillebotte, Samuel Courtauld), individual French patrons (Victor Choquet) and dealers (Ambroise Vollard and Paul Durand-Ruel), kept members of the group afloat until the arrival of American collectors during the late 1880s and early 1890s. (See: Impressionist Exhibitions in Paris.)

Creatively howver, Impressionism was hugely influential. From 1874 onwards, the style was adopted to a greater or lesser extent by the majority of French painters, many of whom were attracted by the creative buzz of Paris, which rapidly became the centre of world art. They were joined by artists from across Europe, including Russia. (See: Impressionist Group Splits.)

WHAT IS ART?
For a guide to the meaning,
of the visual arts, see:
Definition of Art.

BEST MODERN ART
For a list of great works
see: Greatest Modern Paintings.

List of the Best Impressionist Paintings

Here is a selected list of the greatest Impressionist works of art by artists from around the world, chosen by our Editor Neil Collins. It includes examples from all the genres, including historical works, portraiture, genre-painting, landscape and still-life. For more information, see: Impressionist Portraits and Impressionist Landscape Painting.

Note: unless otherwise stated, paintings are held by the Musee d'Orsay, the world's greatest source of Impressionist works of art.

French Impressionist Paintings

Eugene Boudin (1824-98)
French painter active on the Normandy coast, famous for his windy beach scenes and coastal scenes. Introduced Monet to plein air painting.
The Beach at Trouville (1864)
The Jetty at Deauville (1869)
The Port, Trouville (1884) Richard Green Gallery, London.
Laundresses by a Stream (1885) National Gallery, London.
Sailing Boats (1885-90)

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Dutch East Indies-born artist, trained under Corot. Was the only Impressionist painter to exhibit at all eight Impressionist exhibitions.
The Marne at Chennevieres (1864) National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.
A View from Louveciennes (1870) National Gallery, London.
Road in Louveciennes (1870) Mellon Collection.
The Coach at Louveciennes (1870)
Foxhill: Upper Norwood (1870) National Gallery, London.
Lower Norwood under Snow (1870) National Gallery, London.
Street in Upper Norwood (1871) Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
The Crossroads, Pontoise (1872) Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.
Entrance to the Village of Voisins (1872)
Orchard in Pontoise (1877)
Red Roofs (1877)
The Climbing Path l'Hermitage (1877) National Gallery, London.
Boulevard Monmartre, Rainy Weather, Afternoon (1897) Private collection.
Boulevard Monmartre in the Spring (1897) Private collection.
Boulevard Monmartre at Night (1897) National Gallery, London.

Edouard Manet (1832-83)
Graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, influenced by the Spanish School; a father-figure for young French avant-garde artists; highly influential in French art. See more about the Impressionist Edouard Manet.
Music at the Tuilleries Gardens (1862) National Gallery, London.
Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (1863) Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
Le Dejeuner a L'Atelier (1868) Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
Clair de Lune au Port de Boulogne (1869)
Portrait of Berthe Morisot (1872)
The Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1882) Courtauld Institute of Art.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
A master of portraiture, figurative genre-painting, ballet scenes in oils, pastels, as well as sculpture. A man of independent means.
Self-Portrait in a Soft Hat (1857-8)
The Dance Class (1874)
The Absinthe Drinker (1876)
Prima Ballerina (1876-77)
The Bourse (Stock Exchange) (1878)
Nude Wiping Her Left Foot (1886)
The Laundresses (1884)
Blue Dancers (1890)

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)
French painter, lithographer, who specialised in group portraits, flower painting
Homage to Delacroix (1867)
Study of a Nude Woman (1872)

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Along with Monet, Sisley was the most dedicated outdoor painter of all the Impressionists. Became dependent on his painting during his 50s and died in poverty.
Avenue of Chestnut Trees (1867) Southampton Art Gallery.
The Canal St Martin, Paris (1870)
Early Snow At Louveciennes (1871-72)
Footbridge at Argenteuil (1872)
The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (1872) Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
The Road to Sevres (1873)
Misty Morning (1874)
Floods at Port Marly (1876)
Snow at Louveciennes (1878)
Snow at Veneux-Nadon (1880)
Small Meadows in Spring (1885) Tate Gallery, London.
The Bridge at Moret (1893)

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
His lifelong struggle to create a style of meaningful art led, extraordinarily, to his creation of a body of work that became a key influence on Modern Art.
Portrait of Achille Emperaire (1868-70)
A Modern Olympia (1872-3)
The House of the Hanged Man (1872-3)
L'Estaque (1878-9)
The Bridge at Maincy (1879)
L'Estaque: The Village and the Sea (1879-83) Rosengart Collection, Lucerne.
The Card Players (1893) Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
The Boy in the Red Waistcoat (1894-5) EG Buhrle Collection, Zurich.
Still-Life with Cupid (1895) Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
Mont Sainte-Victoire (1904-6) Kunstsammlung, Basel.

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
The acknowledged leader of French Impressionism. A master in the depiction of light, renowned for his Haystack, Rouen Cathedral, and Water-Lily pictures. One of the best landscape artists of all time. See more about the Impressionist Claude Monet.
La Grenouillere (1869) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The Thames Below Westminster (1871) National Gallery, London.
Impression: Soleil Levant/Sunrise (1872) Musee Marmottan.
Poppies Near Argenteuil (1873)
The Bridge at Argenteuil (1875)
Gare St Lazare (1877)
Haystack/Grainstack Series (1890-91).
Rouen Cathedral Series (1892-1895).
Bridge over a Pool of Water Lilies (1899) Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
The Water-Lily Pond (1899) National Gallery, London.
Water-Lilies (1903) Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio.
Blue Water-Lilies (Nympheas Bleus) (1904)
Water-Lilies (1907) Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo.
Water-Lilies (1914-1917) Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio.
Water-Lilies (1916) The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo.
Water-Lilies (1916-20) National Gallery, London.
Weeping Willow (1918-1919) Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth.

Frederic Bazille (1841-70)
One of the early Impressionist painters, he painted with Alfred Sisley among others. Specialised in figurative painting rather than landscape. Killed in the Franco-Prussian War.
The Pink Dress (1864)
The Family Reunion (1867)
The Artist's Studio (1870)

Berthe Morisot (1841-95)
Great grand-daughter of Jean Fragonard, sister-in-law of Edouard Manet, and a central figure within the Impressionist group. Exhibited in 7 out of 8 Impressionist shows.
The Cradle (1874)
Woman at her Toilette (1875) Art Institute of Chicago.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Along with Monet, Sisley and Bazille he formed the nucleus of the initial Impressionist group. Painted outdoors with Monet, but later switched to studio work. Specialised later in figurative painting, and comely female nudes. See more about the Impressionists Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Degas, Cezanne.
Young Boy with a Cat (1868)
La Grenouillere (1869) Oskar Reinhardt Collection, Winterthur.
The Box at the Opera (La Loge) (1874) Courtauld Institute, London.
Path Climbing through Long Grass (1874)
Portrait of Claude Monet (1875)
Le Moulin de la Galette (1876)
Nude in the Sunlight (1876)
The Swing (1876)
Portrait of Victor Chocquet (1877)
Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary (1877) Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
Portrait of Madame Charpentier & her Children (1879) Metropolitan Museum.
Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-1) Phillips Collection, Washington DC.
Les Grandes Baigneuses (The Bathers) (1884-7) Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1908)
Les Baigneuses (c.1918) Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927)
French landscape painter, minor Impressionist; employed bold, vivid colours. Outlived all other French Impressionists.
Valhubert Square (1875)
Paris, Quai de la Gare (1880)

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-94)
French artist from a wealthy family; was a key financial supporter to several of the Impressionists. Focused on everyday genre scenes, known for his striking perspectives and angles.
Les Raboteurs de Parquet (Planing the Floor) (1875)
Young Man at his Window (1876) Private Collection.
Paris: A Rainy Day (1877) Art Institute of Chicago.
Self-Portrait (1890)

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
French painter, printmaker, ceramicist and sculptor; after dabbling with Impressionism, he became a seminal figure in the development of Symbolism, Primitivism, Cloisonism, Synthetism, and other forms of non-naturalist modern art.
Snow, Rue Carcel (1883) Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
Self-Portrait in front of an Easel (1884-5) Private Collection.

Georges Seurat (1859-1891)
Explored Impressionism before developing his own form of Divisionism (Pointillism), along with Paul Signac.
Man Painting His Boat (1883) Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
With Pierre Bonnard, a member of Les Nabis. He was the founder of Intimism - quiet interiors with complex textile-like patterns. Lived with his seamstress mother in a flat in Paris.
In a Room (1899) Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
Model with a Big Hat (1890) Private Collection.
In the Garden (1894-5) Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.
Woman Sewing Before a Garden (1895) Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Landscape: Window Overlooking the Woods (1899) Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Russian Impressionist Paintings

Valentin Serov (1865-1911)
Russian painter, graphic artist and illustrator who trained under Ilya Repin. A master of genre paintings, portraits, landscape and history painting, he painted many of the leading celebrities in Moscow and St Petersburg.
Girl with Peaches (1887) Tretyakov Gallery.
Portrait of Isaac Levitan (1893) Tretyakov Gallery.
In Summer (1895) Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
Colts at a Watering Place, Domotkanovo (1904) Tretyakov Gallery.

Isaac Levitan (1860-1900)
The greatest Impressionist landscape painter in 19th century Russia; a member of the Wanderers, known also as the Itinerants.
Secluded Monastery (1890) Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
The Vladimirka Road (1892) Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Ivan Kramskoy (1837–1887)
Along with Serov, he was the greatest Russian portraitist of his age. His sitters included Tsars, Princes, Grand Dukes, industrial magnates, painters, composers, revolutionaries, and peasants.
Portrait of a Young Woman (1882) Russian Museum, St Petersburg.

Scandinavian Impressionist Paintings

P.S. Kroyer (1851-1900)
Plein air painter, the most celebrated Danish artist of his day; fascinated by the depiction of light.
Summer Evening on the Southern Beach (1893) Skagens Museum, Skagen.

Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916)
Danish Impressionist-style painter famous for his quiet interior pictures.
Interior with a Girl at the Clavier (1901) Private Collection.

Anders Zorn (1860-1920)
The leading Swedish painter of his day, noted for his female nudes, genre scenes and portraits. Also known for his etchings.
Girls from Dalarna Having a Bath (1908) Stockholm National Museum.

German Impressionist Paintings

Adolph Menzel (1815-1905)
German painter and printmaker, now famous for his Impressionist interiors.
Living Room with Menzel's Sister (1847) State Art Gallery, Munich.

Max Liebermann (1847-1935)
German painter known for his portraiture, figurative pictures and landscapes. Also known for his etching and lithography. He was the leading exponent of Impressionism in Germany.
A Country Brasserie, Brannenburg, Bavaria (1894)
The Parrot Man (1902) Folkwang Museum, Essen.

For more about Impressionism in Germany, see German Art 19th century.

Dutch Impressionist Paintings

Johan-Barthold Jongkind (1819-91)
Alcoholic Dutch landscape artist and printmaker, active in France; worked and associated with Barbizon School. An important influence, along with Boudin, on Claude Monet.
The Castle of Rosemount (1861)
The Maas at Maasluis (1866) Musee des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre.
Skaters at Overshie (1867) Richard Green Gallery, London.
The Isere at Grenoble (1877)

British Impressionist Paintings

Walter Sickert (1860-1942)
Influenced by Whistler and Degas, he was the leader of Impressionism in Britain; also noted for his etchings. A major influence on avant-garde British art of the early 20th century and leader of the Camden Town Group.
Mornington Crescent (1908) Private Collection.
Ennui (1914) Tate Collection, London.

Philip Wilson Steer (1860-1942)
Along with Sickert, the leading member of the Impressionist School in Britain.
Girls Running, Walberswick Pier (1888-94) Tate Gallery, London.

Irish Impressionist Paintings

Nathaniel Hone the Younger (1831-1917)
One of the earliest of the Irish artists to study abroad, he worked at Barbizon with Jean-Francois Millet (1814-75).
The Boundary Fence, Fontainebleau (c.1860) National Gallery of Ireland.
Rocks at Kilkee, Co Clare (1880) Private Collection.

Sarah Purser (1848-1943)
Influential Impressionist-style Irish portrait painter and stained glass artist.
Le Petit Dejeuner (1881) National Gallery of Ireland.

Frank O'Meara (1853-88)
Short-lived painting genius noted for his lyrical depiction of light and plein air landscapes.
Reverie (1882) Private Collection.

John Lavery (1856-1941)
The most important Impressionist painter of the Anglo-Irish School, noted for his plein-airism and portraiture.
The Bridge at Grez (1883) Private Collection.
On the Road to Fontainebleau (1884) Private Collection.

Walter Osborne (1859-1903)
One of the greatest Irish Impressionists, active in Brittany before returning to Dublin. Noted for his landscapes and genre paintings.
Apple Gathering, Quimperle Brittany (1884) National Gallery of Ireland.
The Fishmarket (1895) Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
A Scene in Phoenix Park (1895) National Gallery of Ireland.

Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)
Francophile Irish painter noted for his post-Impressionist colourism.
Breton Girl (1906) Private Collection.

Paul Henry (1876-1958)
Noted for his plein air paintings of the west of Ireland. Capable of producing great works of Whistler-like tonality.
Dawn, Killary Harbour (c.1916) Ulster Museum of Fine Arts, Belfast.
The Lake of the Tears of the Sorrowing Women (1918) Niland Gallery, Sligo.

American Impressionist Paintings

Whistler (1834–1903)
American Impressionist-style painter, designer and printmaker, famous for his unique style of tonal painting.
Nocturne in Blue and Silver: Cremorne Lights (1872) Tate Gallery, London.
Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1875) Detroit Institute of Arts.

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
An American painter who settled in Paris, she was known for her mother and child scenes. Also noted for her fine pastels, as well as her prints, made using a variety of techniques including drypoint, aquatint, and etching. Exerted additional influence on Impressionism by persuading her wealthy contacts in America to buy Impressionist works.
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Woman Sewing (1880-2)
Girl Arranging her Hair (1886) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
The Bath (1891-2) Art Institute of Chicago.
Summertime (c.1894) Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture.

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)
One of the earliest converts to American Impressionism, he was also known for his outstanding teaching abilities. Pupils included such diverse talents as Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, Edward Hopper and Marsden Hartley.
Shinnecock Hills (1891) Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.
Idle Hours (1894) Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.
Shinnecock Landscape (1895) Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York.

Theodore Robinson (1852-96)
An early exponent of Impressionism in America, Robinson lived in France for more than eight years, becoming a friend of Monet whom he visited at Giverny. He was responsible for some of America's greatest Impressionist paintings, mostly landscape compositions and some figurative genre paintings.
By the River (1887) Private Collection.
La Vachere (c.1888) Smithsonian American Art Museum.
La Debacle (1892) Scripps College, Claremont.

John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902)
Highly rated American Impressionist landscape painter, noted for his very personal style of painting. Influenced by Whistler and Japanese art, as well as French Impressionists.
Windmills, Dordrecht (1881) Cincinnati Art Museum.
Arques-la-Bataille (1885) Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Icebound (1889) Art Institute of Chicago.

J. Alden Weir (1852-1919)
American Impressionist artist.
The Red Bridge (1895) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Fording the Stream (1910-19) The Newark Museum.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
One of the best portrait artists of the Impressionist movement, he was influenced by Velazquez and Hals. Chiefly a Society portraitist, he was produced some outstanding landscape paintings in watercolours and oils.
The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882) Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood (1887) Tate Gallery, London.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
A prolific painter, he was one of the earliest Impressionists in America, being noted for his oils, watercolours and pastel paintings. In later life he devoted much time to etching and lithography.
Rainy Day, Columbus Avenue, Boston (1885) Toledo Museum of Art.
Boston Common at Twilight (1886) Museum of fine arts, Boston.
Winter in Union Square (1889–90) Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (1892) Terra Foundation for American Art.
Fifth Avenue in Winter (1901, Carnegie Musum of Art)
The Avenue in the Rain (1917) The White House
Allies Day, May 1917 (1917) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Australian Impressionist Paintings

See also: Heidelberg School (c.1886-1900) of Australian Impressionism.

Fred McCubbin
Lost (1886) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
The City's Toil (1887) Famdal Collection, Sydney.
Down on His Luck
(1889) Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
The Pioneer (1904) National Gallery of Victoria.

Charles Conder
Herrick's Blossoms (1888) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
A Holiday at Mentone (1888) Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Tom Roberts
Allegro Con Brio, Bourke St West (c.1885–86) National Gallery of Australia.
Woman at the Piano (1889) Art Gallery of South Australia.

Arthur Streeton
The Railway Station, Redfern (1893) Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
The Purple Noon's Transparent Might (1896) National Gallery of Victoria.

Jane Sutherland
Obstruction, Box Hill (c.1885) Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.

Clara Southern
An Old Bee Farm (1900) National Gallery of Victoria.

Works reflecting the style of this art movement can be seen in most of the best art museums in the world.

 

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