Continuing the ideas of the Realism Art Movement, Impressionists continued to push boundaries and challenge traditional ideas about what constituted art. More and more they ignored the Salons and challenged government sanctioned exhibits. Consequently they were shunned by powerful academic art institutions. As a result, they turned to the streets and cafes of Paris which quickly became a popular art scene during this movement.

The Impressionists aimed to capture a split moment in time. They weren't concerned with reality, clarity or perspective. Close up, many paintings were indistinguishable, but from afar they portrayed images of light and nature in an almost magical presentation. 

Did you know?

The Impressionist artists outraged the art community by holding their own exhibition in 1874.  An exhibit that also included a female artist named Berthe Morisot, the first and only woman in the exhibit.

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Below is some basic information on Impressionism and its characteristics and influences. If you would like to print off a copy of this page along with samples of art from this period, you can download the Impressionism above.

Claude Monet
Claude Monet

Monet created a pond at his home in Giverny and filled it with water lilies, exotic flowers and weeping willows. These items often appeared in his artwork. He created reflections and changed patterns of light which resulted in an abstract world on the surface of the water.

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Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro

Pissarro moved to Paris as a young man and began to experiment with art. He was friends with both Monet and Degas and was very influential in the development of Impressionism. The Garden at Pontoise is one of several paintings he completed that featured the public gardens and is an ideal example of impressionistic art.

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Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley

Sisley is one of the most overlooked Impressionist artists. Unlike others, he concentrated mainly on landscapes and rarely strayed from them. The disappearing road, pictured here in The Seine in Bougival, was one of Sisley’s favorite themes. It usually links the foreground with the background which leads to a very successful perspective view.

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Quick Facts:
  • Art was made up of several small brush strokes and thick blobs of paint

  • The idea was to capture a moment in time on the canvas; the impression

Characteristics and/or Types of Art:
  • Abandoned traditional linear perspective

  • Emphasis on pure intense colors, not emotions or form

  • Artwork was blurry up close; missing details

  • Invention and use of photography

  • Japanese prints