Main Impressionists

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Who were the main Impressionists?


Not all the partaking artists of the eight ‘impressionist’ expositions are considered Impressionists. Otherwise were some artists considered Impressionist, who didn’t partake the expositions. Who were the main Impressionists according to the Impressionists themselves, the art-critics and the art-dealers? I will use green when an artist is seen as impressionist and red when he is not. For the general references see .


The main Impressionists according to the Impressionists themselves:

  • In a letter to Pissarro (1881/01/24) Caillebotte divides two groups. 1. ‘you (=Pissarro) Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Mlle Morisot, Mlle Cassatt, Cézanne, Guillaumin, when you want Gauguin, maybe Cordey and myself (=Caillebotte)’ and 2. the fighters of realism: Degas, Raffaëlli, Lepic, Legros, Mme de Rambure, Moreau (=Maureau), Zandomeneghi, Bracquemond, Mme Bracquemond, Vidal (R102,p275). Pissarro reacts (1881/01/27) that he can’t accept these propositions and he reminds Caillebotte that Degas had brought in Mlle Cassatt, Forain and Caillebotte himself (R102,p276).
  • Monet opposed against Guillaumin, Gauguin and Vignon as partaker of the 7th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1882 in which only 9 typical impressionist painters joined (R22I,p175).
  • In the preparations of the eight ‘impressionist’ exposition Guillaumin and Gauguin pleaded an exposition without Raffaëlli (and others introduced by Degas). Monet pleaded for a core group. Renoir for a selection based on talent, including Degas, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Sisley and himself (note he doesn’t include Caillebotte).


The main Impressionists according to the art-critics:
(For more info on the art-critics, see. )

    • Manet was called by Chesneau (1874) ’the first in line’ (R2,p109).
    • Albert Wolff wrote in 1876  about ‘5 or 6 idiots, including a woman’ (which must be Morisot). Later on he names Pissarro, Degas and Renoir. (R19,p36)
    • In his 38 paged pamphlet ‘La Nouvelle Peinture’ published 1876 Duranty judged the new art-movement (that he didn’t call ‘impressionist’) through Realist-glasses, influenced by Degas. In a 1878 copy sent to Martelli he wrote in the margins the names of the artists (R2,p37). Calling Manet as one of their leaders (R2,p46).
    • In his 1878 publication Duret describes the history of the ‘impressionist’ art-movement, pointing out Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley as their main representatives. (R5,p109) And stressing landscape painting as the preferred and representative form of pure Impressionism (R2,p379).
    • Duranty (1879) distinguishes between the Impressionists and the others. He wrote that the majority of the Impressionists had tried the Salon this year, leaving only three at the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition: Caillebotte, Monet and Pissarro. (R2,p253). Who were ’the majority’? Renoir and Sisley for sure, probably Cézanne. Was Guillaumin one of them? Did he include Cordey and Franc Lamy? Morisot was absent, but not because she submitted to the Salon.
    • Bertall (1880/04/07) thought the following partakers not worthy of the title indepent or impressionist: Marie and Félix Bracquemond, Lebourg, Rouart, Tillot and Vidal, in contrast with Forain and Guillaumin.
    • Charles Ephrussi (1880) differentiated between the ‘radicals’ and those who had ‘emigrated’ from the Salon. He discerns between the work of the Impressionists and the colourless, dull work of the others (R2,p295). But did he add names to these groups?
    • Duret (1882) called this exposition the best (R2,p373), because most paintings were devoted to landscape, colour and the open air in line with his 1878 publication (R2,p378/9; see above).
    • In 1886 Bracquemond, Rouart, Tillot and Vignon were ignored (R2,p430).


The main Impressionists according to the art-dealers:
(For more info on the art-dealers, see. )

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  • In 1900 at the Centennale of the Exposition Universelle there was a separate room for the Impressionist School including: Boudin, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Tillot (wrongly written as Tillet), Vignon and also Manet and Maufra (Maxime, 1861-1918?) (R116I,p294).



Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley may be seen as the core group of Impressionists. Degas has to be added, though he only partly uses an impressionist painting style. xxx