Beginning in Paris, France, in the early 1870s, the Impressionist movement was founded by a group of artists with bold ambitions. At the time, artists were generally expected to emulate the Old Masters, with various set methods and ways of handling light, colour, composition, brushstrokes, subject matter, and so on.
The group of rebellious French artists, however, decided to abandon the conventional rules and methods in favour of a new and refreshing approach. Their art was characterised by far more quick and “painterly” brushstrokes, with a unique and more free use of colour. It was meant to capture a fleeting “impression” of figures, objects, or scenes, usually out of everyday life.
The movement quickly became huge, inspiring what many consider as the birth of modern art.
The prolific artist Claude Monet is often most associated with Impressionism. His 1872 piece, ‘Impression, Sunrise’, for instance, is considered to encapsulate several of the defining characteristics of the movement.
Renowned for his portraits, Pierre Auguste-Renoir was a leading painter in the Impressionist movement. His style was popular for capturing the beauty of people and everyday life, particularly when it came to feminine figures and subjects.
Camille Pissarro was the oldest member of the original group, and an influential teacher of famous post-impressionists such as Paul Cézanne. His use of quick painting techniques was mainly focused around capturing scenes of figures and landscapes.
Unlike the other impressionists, Edgar Degas’ work focused mainly on indoor scenes, and featured a range of experimental use in light and colour. He is particular famous for his ballerina paintings, as well as his pastel series of women bathing.
Defying a male-dominated society, Beth Morisot made a name for herself as an important figure in the Impressionist movement. Her work is largely characterised by loose and bold brushwork, with an often unique approach to colour.
Though his career was short, Frédéric Bazille was a prolific painter. His many works, largely focused around figures and outdoor scenes, played an important part in the movement and its early development.
Another of the “les trois grandes dames” of Impressionism. Marie Bracquemond is admired for her contribution to Impressionism, as well as for defying the expectations of women at the time and becoming a success in her own right.
Promoted as Paris’ premiere artist by Degas, US-born Mary Cassat is famous for her paintings of mostly women and girls, and for capturing moods of solitary reflection.
Known for his somewhat more realistic style, Gustave Caillebotte was also a wealthy individual like those who win big at Canadian mobile casinos and was known for funding the movement and many of his colleagues.
Sisley is known for his en plein air, spontaneous impressionistic outdoor paintings, depicting scenes and landscapes of rural France. Somewhat less known than his contemporaries, Sisley was nevertheless a key figure in the movement.
The above are commonly known as the French Impressionists. As the movement spread, many other great artists became influenced, throughout Europe, and eventually elsewhere, such as America and Australia.