TOP 21 IMPRESSIONIST PAINTINGS

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement that started with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.

Impressionist paintings are characterised by small, thin, yet visible brush strokes. They tend to be bright, vibrant, and intense. Impressionists painted with small touches of mixed and pure unmixed colour rather than broader strokes and blended colours. They were more interested in visual effects. They wanted to capture their images with bold colors rather than detail.

You can see the differences in brush stroke style below…

The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak by Albert Bierstadt, 1863  |  Haystacks, (sunset) by Claude Monet, 1890–1891

Because they broke away from earlier styles of painting in Europe, Impressionist painters faced a lot of opposition early on from the conventional art community in France.

The Académie de Beaux-Arts, which dominated French art at the time, valued historical subjects, religious themes, and portraits; not landscapes and still life. The Académie also preferred carefully finished images that looked realistic when examined closely. Paintings in this style were made up of brush strokes that were longer than the Impressionists and carefully blended.

In contrast, the Impressionist painters not only employed shorter brush stokes, they also painted landscapes and realistic scenes of modern life. They often painted outdoors, capturing the momentary and transient effects of sunlight.

The Académie had an annual, juried art show called the Salon de Paris, which based its judgement on the values of the Académie. During the 1860s, the Salon jury routinely rejected about half of the works submitted by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet and his friends in favour of works by artists faithful to the approved style.

In 1873, Claude Monet, Pierre Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and several other artists founded the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs (“Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers”) to exhibit their artworks independently.

In 1874, they held their first exhibition that had 30 artists showcase their works. The critical response was mixed. Critic and humorist Louis Leroy wrote a review in the newspaper Le Charivari in which, making wordplay with the title of Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, he gave the artists the name by which they became known.

Leroy wrote in The Exhibition of the Impressionists:

Impression—I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of  workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.

Some of the greatest impressionist artists were Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Here are our top 21 Impressionist paintings…

Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), 1872,
Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise) by Claude Monet (1872). This painting became the source of the movement’s name, after Louis Leroy’s article The Exhibition of the Impressionists satirically implied that the painting was at most, a sketch.
Alfred Sisley, View of the Saint-Martin Canal, Paris, 1870,
View of the Saint-Martin Canal, Paris by Alfred Sisley (1870)
Flood at Port-Marly by Alfred Sisley (1876)
Flood at Port-Marly by Alfred Sisley (1876)
Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son (Camille and Jean Monet), 1875,
Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son (Camille and Jean Monet) by Claude Monet (1875)
Camille Pissarro, Hay Harvest at Éragny, 1901
Hay Harvest at Éragny by Camille Pissarro (1901)
Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers (Star of the Ballet) by Edgar Degas (1878)
Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers (Star of the Ballet) by Edgar Degas (1878)
Les Coquelicots by Claude Monet (1873)
Les Coquelicots by Claude Monet (1873)
Femme à l'ombrelle tournée vers la gauche by Claude Monet (1886)
Femme à l’ombrelle tournée vers la gauche by Claude Monet (1886)
Claude Monet - Cliff Walk at Pourville
Cliff Walk at Pourville by Claude Monet (1882)
Alfred Sisley, Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne, 1872
Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne by Alfred Sisley (1872)
Boating by Édouard Manet (1874)
Boating by Édouard Manet (1874)
The Harbour at Lorient by Berthe Morisot (1869)
The Harbour at Lorient by Berthe Morisot (1869)
Edgar Degas, Woman in the Bath, 1886,
Woman in the Bath by Edgar Degas (1886)
Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1881)
Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1881)
Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight by Berthe Morisot (1875)
Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight by Berthe Morisot (1875)
The Hay Cart, Montfoucault by Camille Pissarro (1879)
The Hay Cart, Montfoucault by Camille Pissarro (1879)
Berthe Morisot, Reading, 1873
Reading by Berthe Morisot (1873)
Portrait of Alphonsine Fournaise by Paul Renoir (1879)
Portrait of Alphonsine Fournaise by Paul Renoir (1879)
Agapanthus by Claude Monet (1914 - 1926)
Agapanthus by Claude Monet (1914 – 1926)
Dancers by Edgar Degas (1900)
Dancers by Edgar Degas (1900)
Mme. Charpentier and her children by Paul Renoir (1878)
Mme. Charpentier and her children by Paul Renoir (1878)

 

If you are interested in a more real-life view of impressionist paintings or if you want to learn more about the movement and its artists, please watch the videos below.