Europe: 19th century


These artists broke new ground with sketchy, light-filled canvases shown in independent exhibitions.

c. 1874 - 1886

Beginner's guide

These artists each sought their own solutions for the depiction of modern life. Can we even call Impressionism a unified style?

videos + essays

The Impressionists painted city parks and city streets, train stations and ballet rehearsals, cafés and lily ponds.

A summer day in Paris: Berthe Morisot’s <em>Hunting Butterflies</em>
A summer day in Paris: Berthe Morisot’s Hunting Butterflies

The subject takes control over the outdoor setting, expressing her independence in spite of limitations.

How to recognize Monet: <em>The Basin at Argenteuil</em>
How to recognize Monet: The Basin at Argenteuil

In the suburbs, Parisians escaped the pressures of modern life. Monet painted their sun-drenched pleasures.

How to recognize Renoir: <em>The Swing</em>
How to recognize Renoir: The Swing

Renoir wanted to forget everything he knew about how to paint so that he could render light as it really is.

Berthe Morisot, <em>The Cradle</em>
Berthe Morisot, The Cradle

Lacking access to the cafes and bars male Impressionists painted, Morisot mastered intimate domestic interiors.

Monet, <em>The Gare Saint-Lazare</em>
Monet, The Gare Saint-Lazare

Hazy with smoke, the architecture of the train station and technology of the iron engine dissolve before our eyes.

Looking east: how Japan inspired Monet, Van Gogh and other Western artists
Looking east: how Japan inspired Monet, Van Gogh and other Western artists

Isolated for centuries, Japan opened to trade in the 1850s, providing fresh inspiration for Western artists.

Gustave Caillebotte, <em>The Floor Scrapers (Les raboteurs de parquet)</em>
Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers (Les raboteurs de parquet)

The male body at work is gorgeously glorified in Caillebotte’s canvas, raising questions of class and sexuality.

Gustave Caillebotte, <em>Man at his Bath</em>
Gustave Caillebotte, Man at his Bath

Why was it considered troublesome to exhibit this painting of a naked man when female nudes were the norm?

Gustave Caillebotte, <em>Paris Street; Rainy Day</em>
Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day

Though called “an Impressionist in name only,” Caillebotte is all about light and movement–just like his peers.

Claude Monet, <em>Cliff Walk at Pourville</em>
Claude Monet, Cliff Walk at Pourville

Monet’s painting technique is perfectly suited for depicting this windy seaside day on the English Channel.

Mary Cassatt, <em>In the Loge</em>
Mary Cassatt, In the Loge

The subject looks through opera glasses, but she herself is the object of another man’s gaze—not to mention ours.

Edgar Degas,<em> At the Races in the Countryside</em>
Edgar Degas, At the Races in the Countryside

Degas is off to the races, where class issues are in the foreground.

Selected Contributors | Impressionism