7 Famous Impressionist Painters Who Achieved Greatness

Impressionism originated in France in the 19th century. The movement revolutionized the art world. Many artists such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edouard Manet, Bertha Morisot, and Mary Cassatt created Impressionist works. Impressionist artists captured fleeting moments, bright light, and everyday scenes. Today, the influence of the Impressionists continues. This is visible in the continued artistic importance of color, light and themes coming from everyday life.

1. The most famous impressionist painter: Claude Monet

Cliffs at Port-Goulphar, Belle-Île by Claude Monet, 1886, via Art Institute Chicago

Claude Monet was an advocate of the Impressionist movement throughout his career. The movement is even named after one of his works called Impression, Sunrise. To capture the changing light, Monet liked to paint outdoors, a practice he was introduced to by his mentor Eugene Boudin. The artist Gustave Courbet once visited Claude Monet while he was working on his large painting The women in the garden and said that Monet needed the light conditions to be perfect even when he painted the leaves. It focuses on depicting the same scene but at different times of day and under different weather conditions from 1890 onwards.

This led to series like Buy some hay. While the beginning of his career was shaped by poverty, he began to make more money in the 1880s. In 1890 he managed to buy a house in Giverny, France. There he created a water garden with many water lilies. It inspired the well-known Monet Water lillies a series that consists of about 300 paintings. His eyesight deteriorated in 1908, and in 1923 he had cataract surgery. However, he is working on the series. He donated a number of these works to the French government in 1926, the same year he died.

2. Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas rehearses dancers on stage
The Stage Rehearsal by Edgar Degas, 1874, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Edgar Degas is known for his depiction of Parisian society and his depiction of female subjects, particularly ballet dancers. While Impressionists like Claude Monet painted outdoors, Edgar Degas preferred to work indoors. He was born in Paris in 1834, the son of a banker and an art enthusiast. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and learned from the work of the old masters, whose works he saw in the Louvre and in Italy.

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Degas met Édouard Manet while copying a work by Diego Velázquez in the Louvre. Through Manet, Degas was introduced to the group of Impressionists. Instead of making historical paintings, Degas began to paint scenes from modern everyday life. His paintings included ballerinas, laundresses at work and women in their toilets.

Influenced by the Impressionist movement and photography, Degas wanted the scenes in his works to appear spontaneous and fleeting. He often cut people or objects out of his paintings, which enhanced their snapshot quality. However, he admitted that achieving this effect was meticulously planned. The unusual perspectives of his paintings are also influenced by Japanese color prints.

3. Pierre-Auguste Renoir

impressionist painter pierre auguste renoir dance
The Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876, via Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841. He started working as a painter in a porcelain factory when he was 13 years old. He attended evening courses at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1862 and took lessons in the studio of Charles Glayer. There he met Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Basile. During this time, artists created their works in a studio. However, Renoir, Monet, Sisley and Basile broke with this tradition and went to the forest of Fontainebleau to paint in 1864.

He is known for his snapshot-like depictions of gatherings, seen in works such as Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette or Lunch at the boat party. He is also known for his depiction of women and naked bodies. With your work Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir vividly depicts impressionistic subjects such as modern everyday life as well as the ever-changing lighting conditions, here seen through seemingly fleeting patches of light. His paintings show subjects that are usually considered pleasant, such as flowers, beautiful women, people having fun, and cute children.

4. Camus Pissarro

Camius Pissarro Shepherd Valhermeil
Shepherd at Valermail, Auvers-sur-Oise by Camille Pissarro, 1874, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Camille Pizarro was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, where his parents owned a general store. At the age of 12, he was sent to school in Passy. When he returned to St. Thomas, his father wanted him to work in the family business, but Pizarro wanted to make art instead. In 1852 he set sail for Venezuela with the painter Fritz Melbay to escape what he called the slavery of bourgeois life. A few years later, Pissarro went to Paris and attended private lessons at the École des Beaux-Arts. At the Académie Suisse he met Claude Monet, who introduced him to Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. At the Café Guérbois, he often debated art with Renoir and Monet.

He was interested in the influence of time and light. Pissarro is widely known for his landscape paintings depicting rural life, of which he is a work Shepherd at Valhermeil, Auvers-sur-Oise is an example. The artist was dissatisfied with the jury of the Paris Salon and therefore sought an exhibition other than the one at the Salon. In 1874, the first Impressionist exhibition was held in the studio of the photographer Nadar in Paris. Pissarro is the only one to exhibit his works in all eight Impressionist exhibitions. He was older than the rest of the group and became known as their father.

5. Edouard Manet

impressionist painter boating edward manet
Sailing in a Boat by Édouard Manet, 1874, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

There is debate as to whether Manet was an impressionist or not, but he certainly influenced the group significantly. Born in 1832 in Paris to an upper-middle-class family, Édouard Manet became one of the most significant artists of the 19th century. He is also well known for his participation in the Impressionist group, but he never exhibited in any of the official Impressionist exhibitions.

Due to his upper-middle-class status, Manet aspired to traditional artistic success, although he was perceived as a rebellious artist who created outrageous works of art such as Lunch on the grass and Olympia. While his work influenced the Impressionists, and he himself was influenced by them in the 1870s, Manet also maintained some distance from the group. He also continues to send his works to the Salon.

Impressionist painter and Édouard Manet’s daughter-in-law Bertha Morisot encouraged the artist to paint outdoors, through plein air, which was characteristic of the Impressionist movement. Manet’s painting titled Boating of 1874, set in Gennevilliers, where Manet was vacationing at the time, was inspired by Japanese prints. Like many Impressionist works, it depicts an aspect of modern life and leisure. At Gennevilliers, Manet often spent time with Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

6. Bertha Morisot

berthe morisot woman toilet impressionist painter
Woman at her Toilet by Bert Morisot, 1875/80, via the Art Institute of Chicago

Bert Morisot was one of the few female Impressionist painters. She was born in 1841 in Bourges, France, and was a descendant of Jean-Honore Fragonard, who was an important Rococo painter. Morisot received an informal art education from Camille Corot, and two of her works were accepted by the Salon on her first attempt in 1864. In the following years, she exhibited more of her paintings, but despite the positive response she received, she stopped showing them to the famous exhibition. Instead, Morisot helped organize the Impressionist exhibitions and participated in seven of the movement’s eight shows. She was unable to participate in the fourth because she was ill after the birth of her daughter Julie.

Her home also became a popular place for impressionist artists and writers. Morisot is known for depicting women, domestic life and private scenes such as c A woman in her toilet. Her work has been praised for depicting women in a way that does not objectify them. The artist died of pneumonia in 1895, when she was only 54 years old.

7. American impressionist painter in Paris: Mary Cassatt

impressionist painter Mary Cassatt boat party
The Boat Party by Mary Cassatt, 1893/1894, via National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Mary Cassatt is another example of a female impressionist whose work and achievements were often overshadowed by those of her male colleagues. Cassatt was born in 1844 in Allegheny City, which is now part of Pittsburgh. From 1861 to 1865 she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After her studies at the academy, she went to Europe and exhibited her work at the 1872 Salon in Paris. She was touched by the art of Degas, who also became a close friend.

Degas wanted Cassatt to show her work at the Impressionist group exhibitions, which she did on four of the eight occasions. She was the only American exhibiting with the group. Like other members of the movement, Mary was interested in bright colors. She often uses people she knows as models for her paintings and shows contemporary scenes of everyday life, such as in The boat party.

Later in her career, Cassatt focused on images of mothers caring for their children. A famous example of these works is The child’s bathroom, in which a mother is seen washing the feet of a small child. The striped dress and the perspective of the work, which depicts the mother and child from above, also show how Cassatt was inspired by Japanese art. This influence became even more evident in a series of prints she made after visiting the 1890 exhibition of Japanese prints in Paris. Cassatt also greatly influenced American taste in art by encouraging friends to buy Impressionist art.

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