Impressionism: c. 1874-1886

Impressionism is both a style and the name of a group of artists who did something radical—in 1874 they banded together and held their own independent exhibition. These artists described, in fleeting sensations of light, the new leisure pastimes of the city and its suburbs. It’s hard to imagine, but at this time in France, the only place of consequence that artists could exhibit their work was the official government-sanctioned exhibitions (called salons), held just once a year, and controlled by a conservative jury. The Impressionists painted modern Paris and landscapes with loose open brushstrokes, bright colors, and unconventional compositions—none of which was appreciated by the salon jury!

Japonisme thumb
The distinctive qualities of Japanese art offered striking new approaches to modern artists developing alternatives to the Western tradition of naturalistic representation.