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10 essential Impressionist painters

10 essential Impressionist painters

From the inimitable Monet to fab females like Mary Cassatt, Musement shares ten Impressionist painters who were fundamental to this 19th-century art movement.

There’s probably no group of artists whose work is as storied as the Impressionists. A 19th-century art movement born in France, Impressionism was characterized not only by painting mostly outdoors and “on the spot” but also via a deviation from the natural to emphasize the light and incorporate motion. In 1874, a group of 30 artists organized an exhibition for their works in Paris, and the rest is history. The movement then spawned post-Impressionism which included Van Gogh and Cezanne among its ilk.

Here are ten of the top Impressionist painters.

1. Claude Monet, 1840 – 1926

There’s arguably no name as synonymous with Impressionism as Monet and no works so emblematic of the movement than his Water Lillies series. The artist resided in Giverney, his in Normandy estate outfitted with a Japanese water garden. Though he never visited Japan, the country inspired him nevertheless. Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (1872) lent its name to the art movement. Though, the moniker was imparted facetiously as many couldn’t understand how this style was indeed art. Read about more of his works here.

2. Édouard Manet, 1832 – 1833

Though he considered himself more of a Realist, Manet warrants a mention as he’s known for building the bridge between Realism and Impressionism. Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the GrassD’Orsay Museum. The painting depicts a nude female sharing lunch with two fully clothed gentlemen while another woman bathes in the lake…interpret the scenario as you see fit.

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Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) – originally titled Le Bain (The Bath) – is a large oil on canvas painting by Édouard Manet created in 1862 and 1863. It depicts a female nude and a scantily dressed female bather on a picnic with two fully dressed men in a rural setting. Rejected by the Salon jury of 1863, Manet seized the opportunity to exhibit this and two other paintings in the 1863 Salon des Refusés, where the painting sparked public notoriety and controversy. The work is now in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. A smaller, earlier version can be seen at the Courtauld Gallery, London. The painting features a nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men. Her body is starkly lit and she stares directly at the viewer. The two men, dressed as young dandies, seem to be engaged in conversation, ignoring the woman. In front of them, the woman's clothes, a basket of fruit, and a round loaf of bread are displayed, as in a still life. In the background, a lightly clad woman bathes in a stream. Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seems to float above them. The roughly painted background lacks depth, giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio. This impression is reinforced by the use of broad "studio" light, which casts almost no shadows. The man on the right wears a flat hat with a tassel, a kind normally worn indoors. #eduardmanet #theluncheononthegrass #ledejeunersurlherbe #impression #postimpressionism #art #artist #arthistory #painting #paintings

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3. Pierre-August Renoir, (1841-1919)

Renoir’s distinct style is characterized by softness, voluptuousness, and sensuality. Of all the Impressionists, his works are considered the most “traditional,” and he’s known for capturing landscapes and leisurely joyous occasions, such as in his Luncheon of the Boating Party. Some of his most famous works include the Ball at the Moulin de la Galette (1876), which captures Parisian life at a Montmartre locale, Dance at Bougival (1883), The Bathers (1918 – 1919), and La Grenouillère (1869).

4. Gustave Caillebotte, 1848 – 1894

One of the foremost Impressionist painters, Caillebotte is often wrongfully overshadowed by his contemporaries, though the last decade has brought about several exhibits dedicated to the artist. Independently wealthy, Caillebotte financed the Impressionist art shows, purchased works from his peers, and even helped his friend Monet out of a few financial binds. One of his most unmistakeable works is the Paris Street, Rainy Day (1877), which can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877) by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA Caillebotte belonged to the realism wing of the impressionist movement; He was more interested in painting the realities of the world as they were, as opposed to his visual impression of them. This piece has a modern look, almost photography-esque. The foreground is in focus while its surroundings are blurry. The center appears to bulge, an effect that would exist if this were a photograph. The brush work is not as loose and broad as one of an impressionist piece but rather focuses on lines and three dimensional forms. There are a number of subjects in this work, all gazing downwards, moving with haste within this newly constructed paris with wide boulevards and modern apartments. Caillebotte is skilled at conveying the subtlety of light on a rainy winter morning. It is a snapshot of people going about their daily lives, meticulously placed for the pleasure of the viewer.

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5. Berthe Morisot, 1841-1895

One of the few female Impressionist painters, Morisot happened to be married to Manet’s brother Eugène, also a painter. Her work was romantic and soft with a fanciful feminine flair, and evoked a sense of intimacy, often depicting people during seemingly private moments. The Cradle (1872) depicts her sister gazing at her baby, Young Girl in a Ballgown (1879), and The Port of Nice (1882) are among her most notable works.

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"Romanciers modernes, peintres modernes m’ennuient, je n’aime que la nouveauté extrême, ou les choses du passé ; à vrai dire une seule exposition m’amuse, les Indépendants et j’adore le Louvre". ⠀ Berthe Morisot, Premier carnet noir (1890-1891).⠀ Exposition #BertheMorisot, jusqu’au 22 septembre au musée d’Orsay.⠀ .⠀ “Modern novelists, modern painters bore me. I only like extreme novelty, or else things of the past; truth be told, only one exhibition amuses me, the Independents, and I love the Louvre”.⠀ Berthe Morisot, First black notebook (1890-1891).⠀ Exhibition #BertheMorisot, until 22 September at the Musée d’Orsay.⠀ .⠀ #museedorsay #museeorsay #orsaymuseum #artmuseum #artgallery #fineart #beauxarts #artexhibition #art #museum #Paris #peinture #painting #morisot #impressionnisme #impressionism #femmeartiste #womanartist #portrait⠀ .⠀ Femme et enfant au balcon (1871-1872)⠀ Tokyo, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation, Gaiyo 268⠀ © Tokyo Fuji Art Museum/Bridgeman Images / Service presse

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6. Camille Pissaro, 1830 – 1903

This Danish-French landscape artist was born on the island of St. Thomas but eventually made his home in France where he was educated. He spent a lot of time outside of Paris as he preferred living and working in the open air.The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning (1897), which is one of several from a series dedicated to the Paris’ great boulevards, The Large Walnut Tree at l’Hermitage (1875), and Afternoon Sunshine, Pont Neuf (1901) are among his most noteworthy.

7. Marie Bracquemond, 1840 – 1916

Another lady who cracked the club, Marie Bracquemond often flies under the radar, partly due to her husband, Félix Bracquemond, a well-known artist who resented of her talent. She’s known for her whimsical implementations of color and textures as well as for a distinct luminosity and a delicate flair. Some of her most famous works include Afternoon Tea (1880), a portrayal of her sister seated in the garden reading a book beside a table with tea, Three Women with Umbrellas (1880), and Pierre Painting a Bouquet (1887), which depicts her son.

8. Edgar Degas, (1834 – 1917)

Some may be quicker to associate Degas’ name with his ballerinas than with the Impressionists, but he’s emblematic of the movement. In addition to his colorful array of dancer portrayals, Degas’ most famous works include The Absinthe Drinker (1876), A Cotton Office in New Orleans (1873) and Place de la Concorde (1876).

9. Mary Cassatt, 1844 – 1926

An American ex-pat in Paris, Mary Cassatt mostly captured women and children in candid backdrops. She had a deep friendship with Degas, who painted her a few times, and it was through him she became involved with the Impressionists. The Child’s Bath (1893), Mother and Child before a Pool (1898) and Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge (1879) are among her most notable works.

10. Frédéric Bazille, 1841 – 1870

Bazille is responsible for laying the foundations of the Impressionist movement. When he enlisted for the Franco-Prussian war, unlike many of his friends who fled to avoid the draft, his life was cut tragically short at 28 years old when he was killed in combat. Sadly, he passed before the first-ever Impressionist exhibition and although his works weren’t showcased, he’s still considered fundamental to the movement. One of the first to paint outside, his best-known works include The Pink Dress (1864), Family Reunion (1867) and Studio in Rue de La Condamine(1870), in which he depicts himself surrounded by friends including Manet and Renoir.

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