Famous Impressionist Painters

Impressionist painters were a group of artists that rebelled against the traditional notions of proper painting techniques. Instead of focusing on painting a realistic replica of an image, impressionist painters chose play with lighting and colors to invoke some of the emotion in the moment.

Impressionism is a style of painting that uses fluid and abstract strokes to create compositions filled with mood and emotion. The formal movement was started in the mid-1800s by a group of French painters revolting against the accepted academic standards of high art. The movement grew so strong that when several Impressionist paintings were refused entry into the national art gallery, the emperor Napoleon created a second national art salon to exhibit the rejected works.

The Impressionism movement was named after the painting Impression: Soleil Levant by Claude Monet. The abstract and brightly colored piece invokes the deep colors and overwhelming light of a sunrise, making it a perfect example of the Impressionism movement. However, many now-famous painters helped create the revolution, including Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley.

Famous Impressionist Painters

  • Claude Monet (1840-1926) is one of the most famous of all the Impressionist painters. His abstract and emotional representations of nature focused on lighting and shadows. His best known works include one series of paintings portraying haystacks at different times of day and another series invoking the beauty and calm of waterlilies in his garden.
  • Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) was one of the few female Impressionist painters during her life, and her work did not gain critical acclaim until long after her death. Morisot was the friend and sister-in-law of the famous painter Edouard Manet. Her work focused on portraits of daily life, usually with women as the main subject. Her famous painting, The Artist's Sister at a Window is a typical example of her tendency toward female subjects and the strong use of white.
  • Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) focused most of his work on landscapes that captured moments of daily life and never strayed from the basic Impressionist ideals. He used both rural and urban settings for his paintings, displaying the movement of people among architectural and natural elements. One of his most famous pieces, Haymakers Resting, is filled with the dreamy gold hues of a hayfield as three sturdy women rest in the shade.
  • Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) focused on beauty and joy in his paintings. His works tend to have happy moods that often include children, nature or attractive women. He had a gift for capturing large and complex compositions filled with crowds of people and intricate details, which was rare for an Impressionist painter. However, he could also capture intimate images, such as the casual conversation between two women in his painting Young Women Talking.
  • Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) was one of the least successful Impressionist painters during his life. It wasn't until after his death that his work began to sell and collect praise. Sisley focused on landscape works and was particularly interested in re-creating different skies. One of his most famous piece, Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne, is a perfect example of his attention to the environmental effects, such as sun, rain and snow, on architectural and natural settings.
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