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Walther says ‘it’s not easy to define’ Impressionism (R3,p94), still we will try to sketch what Impressionism characterizes. The eight ‘impressionist’ expositions from 1874-1886 can be seen as highlights of the impressionist art-movement. But Moffett emphasizes that the expositions mostly weren’t called that way and many of the partaking artists  didn’t paint in an impressionistic style (R2). Famous  so called impressionist painters like Manet and Van Gogh didn’t partake in these expositions at all (see related painters). Many emphasize that the impressionist art-movement consisted of several circles of friends in Paris (R4). Inspired by the Impressionists, painters in other countries began to paint in an impressionist painting style and nowadays painters still do. Therefor we suggest to distinguish Impressionism as an art-movement in France from about 1863-1886 and Impressionism as a painting style. For the general references see.


In the linked pages we will try to answer the next questions:

  • Why were the Impressionists called ‘impressionists’?
  • Were the partaking artists of the ‘impressionist’ expositions impressionists?
    Were they part of the impressionist art-movement in France from about 1863-1886?
    Did they paint in an impressionist painting style?
  • What circles of friends can we discern? Who were most active within these circles?
  • Who were the main Impressionists?
  • Pre-Impressionists: What painters inspired the Impressionists?
  • Which (impressionist) painters were related to the Impressionists but didn’t partake in the expositions?
  • What later painters (in other countries) painted in an impressionist style (after 1886)?


Some conclusions:

Many outline the Impressionists as opposed to and refused by the Paris Salon (R15 +R18). But as you will read in the info about the artists, many had an ambivalent relationship with the Salon. Still the surge for independence is an important characteristic of the Impressionist art-movement.
The artists that were most active with the eight ‘impressionist’ expositions, in order of importance, were: Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Rouart, Caillebotte, Renoir, Guillaumin, Morisot, Cassatt, Gauguin, Cals, Tillot, Forain and Vignon.
Many emphasize as distinguishing for the impressionist painting style the painting en-plein-air and the catching of the influence of sunlight on colours. But the painters of Barbizon and others did so before them and even Monet often finished his paintings in his studio. I think what distinguishes the impressionist painting style most, is the (slightly unnatural) brightness of the colours, the absence of black and the vividness of the juxtaposed brushstrokes. And also the conviction that a ‘sketchy’ painting renders a fleeting moment better than a ‘finished’ painting. Also new was rendering everyday life in the city.