Do you know that the name Impressionism is derived from the work of Famous Impressionist Painter Claude Monet?
What figures would Edgar Degas use most in his paintings, who did not consider himself an Impressionist, but made Impressionist-style paintings?
Who are the female artists of Impressionism, nicknamed the three great ladies (les Trois grandes dames)?
In the 1870s a new art movement emerged in Paris that was in sheer contrast with the ideas of Realism artists of decades earlier. In the first half of the century, a return to the essence of Romantic artists’ dramatic expression was somewhat restored, and artists of this movement were inspired by the works of painters such as Eugène Delacroix and J. M. W. Turner. Although initially criticized, it quickly gained acclaim and became popular over time. It even led to similar movements in music and literature.
Today Impressionism is considered one of the most influential movements in modern art.
Characteristics of an Impressionist painting include distinctive brush strokes; vivid colors; ordinary subject matter; candid poses and compositions; and most importantly, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities and unusual visual angles. Moreover, its artists focused on capturing the instantaneous effect of a scene rather than accurately depicting it.
Before Impressionism, paintings were usually created in the studio. The Impressionists started the tradition of creating art in the plein air, the practice of painting outdoors.
Let’s examine together the answers to the questions at the beginning of our content and the most famous artists of this famous art movement under the title of “8 Famous Impressionist Painters and Their Masterpieces”.
Impressionist Painters List
1- Claude Monet
Oscar Claude Monet (1840-1926) was a French painter and one of the founders of the impressionist art movement. As well as being one of the founding fathers of the movement, he is also among the most prolific.
He has spent the latter half of his life living in a large estate in the northern part of France where he started a landscaping project. This was the inspiration for his series of Nympheas (Water Lilies) and other landscape paintings that eventually became his most famous works.
The term ‘Impressionism’ is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (French: Soleil Levant), exhibited in 1874.
He broke tradition and thought in terms of colors, light, and shapes. Some of his series has explored how smoke, steam, mist, rain, etc. affect color and visibility. He did this by painting the same scene over and over to capture the changing effect of light and the changing of the seasons.
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Monet’s most famous series, Nympheas (Water Lilies), consisting of around 250 paintings, has been described as the ‘Sistine Chapel of Impressionism’.
Claude Monet is the most famous French landscape artist and is considered among the greatest painters of all time.
2- Edgar Degas
Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas (1834-1917) is best known for his pastel drawings and oil paintings, but also created various works of art such as bronze sculptures, prints, and drawings. Although he is now known as one of the leading artists of the Impressionist art movement, he did not refer to himself as such and preferred to be called a Realist artist.
Dancers, singers, prostitutes…These figures all made up Degas’ works, and he was an aspiring painter to paint them in innovative ways. He would draw at unusual angles under artificial light, with strange postures.
From the 1870s until his death, dance figures, which form a large part of his work, have been the subject of constant research by art historians, especially ballerinas.
Degas is famous for his paintings of ballerinas at work, at rehearsal, or at rest. One of the reasons why dance paintings are legendary is because he depicted movements in his paintings in a way that no one had captured before.
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Many critics during the impressionist era were criticized Degas’s use of lower-class figures in his paintings.
Unlike all other famous Impressionist artists, he rarely painted outdoors.
It is also remarkable that he had an academic education and initially wanted to be a history painter. He eventually became one of the ultimate masters in the painting of movement, a feature that defined Impressionist art.
3- Édouard Manet
Edouard Manet (1832-1883) is a very important representative of the Impressionist art movement in the 19th century. He is considered one of the first artists to depict modern life, and he produced very important works in the style of transition between Realism and Impressionism. This feature made Manet one of the most famous impressionist artists in the history of art.
Manet spent most of his life in Paris. Naked women, in general, form the subject of most of Edouard Manet’s paintings. This choice was often criticized by art critics during the impressionist era.
Manet also preferred to capture everyday life and common objects in his paintings.
Cafes and bars of Paris, city life, streets and people… ‘A Bar at the Folies’ is one of his most famous works.
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About ten years before the Impressionist movement took shape, he painted one of the most influential paintings in history, ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’ (‘Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe’), and inspired the Impressionists in the 1870s.
The brushstrokes were loose, and therefore parts of the canvas were not properly covered with paint, so the critics gave an incomplete interpretation of his work.
Edouard Manet was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, and he may be regarded as the most influential Impressionist artist.
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4- Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) was an English Impressionist painter born in France where he spent and worked most of his life. Although he spent the majority of his life in France, he retained his British citizenship.
He is famous for his outdoor paintings and was one of the most prolific Impressionist landscape painters of his time. Unlike his peers who examined urban life, industrialization and people; Sisley stuck to the landscape genre and rarely strayed from it.
Landscape art is known for its ability to accurately capture the sense of atmosphere and light and is adept at depicting the intricacies of natural landscapes missed by many other impressionists.
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Alfred Sisley is also the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to outdoor landscape painting. Alfred Sisley’s masterpiece Snow at Louveciennes is considered a prime example of the impressionism goal of recording the temporal effects of air and light.
His work is defined by the tranquility and fascinating use of colors, which intensifies as his career progresses.
5- Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was a French Impressionist artist known for his excellent capture of the beauty and sensuality of women.
In addition, capturing the modernity and leisure of Parisian life is among the focal points of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It has clearly been inspired by some of the most famous Baroque Artists, such as Peter Paul Rubens and Jean-Antoine Watteau.
He also painted one of the most iconic Impressionist paintings in history, ‘Bal du moulin de la Galette’, which is now on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. In addition, this work has been described as the most beautiful painting of the 19th century.
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This painting, which depicts a regular Sunday afternoon in the Montmartre district of Paris, is the definition of the Impressionist art movement.
His paintings were notable for their vibrant light and saturated color, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions.
It is his fascination with human figures that distinguishes Renoir among other Impressionist painters who prefer to work with landscapes.
6- Mary Cassatt
Born in Pennsylvania in the United States, Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-1926) went to France to study art, where she spent most of her life and career.
At that time, the French art world was dominated by the impressionist movement. Mary Cassatt was the only American artist to exhibit with the Impressionists in Paris. After her talent was noticed by her contemporaries, she had a long collaboration with the famous artist Edgar Degas.
Mary Cassatt, especially emphasizes the intimate bonds between mothers and children, she is known for depicting the social and private lives of women. Her contribution as a female artist is notable as she was able to achieve professional success at a time when few women were regarded as serious artists.
Mary Cassatt is the most famous female impressionist and is regarded as one of the greatest female artists of all time.
7- Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was a Danish-French artist who had a prolific career as both an Impressionist and later a Post-Impressionist painter. He was a sort of ambassador of the Impressionist movement, and in the early 1870s, he formed a group of about 15 like-minded artists.
Camille Pissarro is known as the ‘dean of the Impressionist painters’ as he was an important figure and mentor in the movement.
His career started with the Realist painter Gustave Courbet, who was his great inspiration and later continued with his collaborations with famous Post-Impressionist artists such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.
He ended up becoming a major inspiration for artists such as Cézanne, Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh. His work is defined by his portrayals of the ordinary man in natural settings without any extravagance or grandeur.
He was heavily influenced by politics and one cannot separate politics from his art. His paintings on working peasants are a clear example of this.
When most contemporaries of the Impressionist era refused to exhibit their works in exhibitions, Camille Pissarro is the only one who has exhibited his paintings in all eight Impressionist exhibitions.
8- Berthe Morisot
Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (1841-1895), who was born into an influential family, decided to become an artist early in her life and pursued this aim with great devotion throughout her life.
Her works were exhibited for the first time in the highly respected Salon de Paris in 1864 and continued to be exhibited there for the next ten years. However, in 1874 she joined the revolutionary impressionists and refused to exhibit her works at the Salon.
After the second impressionist exhibition in 1876, a critic described its participants as “five or six lunatics, one of which is a woman”. That woman was Berthe Morisot.
Despite the difficulties she faced due to her gender, Morisot went on to become a successful artist and a leading member of the impressionist movement.
Such is her contribution to the movement that, along with Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt, she is known as the “les trois grandes dames (three great ladies)” of Impressionism.
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