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!





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

Berthe Morisot, The Cradle



Locomotives and tracks (detail), Claude Monet, The Gare Saint-Lazare (or Interior View of the Gare Saint-Lazare, the Auteuil Line), 1877, oil on canvas, 75 x 104 cm (Musée d'Orsay)
Hazy with smoke, the architecture of the train station and technology of the iron engine dissolve before our eyes.

Monet, The Gare Saint-Lazare








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

Mary Cassatt, In the Loge






Claude Monet, Poplars (detail)
Obsessed with this view, Monet paid the owner of the trees not to cut them down until he finished his paintings.

Claude Monet, Poplars







Auguste Renoir, La Loge- detail
The Paris Opera was a who’s who of society, and the attendees were as much on display as the performers.

Auguste Renoir, La Loge