Impressionism (1860-1886)
Barbizon school

 

 

 

 

 

Overview

 

Impressionism is a school that arose and developed in France in the second half of the 19th c. – beginning of the 20th. It spread across whole Europe and brought a real revolution in the art world. The impressionism was an art school that strove to share an impression that would be perceived as something material. The aim of an impressionist artist was to “deliver only his own impression from things and not to worry about generally accepted rules”. He works on a picture right under open sky, makes small touches, uses only pure colours of rainbow, indenting to convey the whole intensity of light and life itself at one certain moment. Despite the fact that impressionism was absolutely new school they had some precursors. You can find this tendency in some works of El Greco, Velázquez, Turner, Goya, Turner and Constable. But the main roles were plaid by French artists Corot and Courbet who were the immediate precursors. First the Word « impressionisme » was used by a journalist Louis Leroy : his review was published in Le Charivari and was devoted to the first exhibition. The name of the movement is derived from the title of a Claude Monet work, “Impression, Sunrise”. Impressionism was an absolutely new technique that reflects new perception of reality. It was a tendency, which occurred against official art. The whole art culture was represented by the Académie des Beaux-Arts that organised the Salon de Paris – an annual art show; artists whose work displayed in the show won prizes, garnered commissions, and enhanced their prestige. But some younger artists painted in a lighter and brighter manner than painters of the preceding generation, extending further the realism of Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon school. They were more interested in painting landscape and contemporary life than in recreating scenes from history. Each year, they submitted their art to the Salon, only to see the juries reject their best efforts in favour of trivial works by artists working in the approved style. A core group of young realists, Claude Monet, Pierre-AugusteRenoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille, who had studied under Charles Gleyre, became friends and often painted together. They soon were joined by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, and Armand Guillaumin. After seeing the rejected works in 1863, Emperor Napoleon III decreed that the public be allowed to judge the work themselves, and the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused) was organized. While many viewers came only to laugh, the Salon des Refusés drew attention to the existence of a new tendency in art and attracted more visitors than the regular Salon. As they couldn’t be exhibited at the salon the later part of 1873 Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley decided to organise the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs ("Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers") and show their work an independent exhibition. Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, and Edgar Degas joined them soon. The first exhibition was held in 1874 from 15th April till 15th May where 30 artist were represented. It didn’t bring any success to the new art and rose perplexity, indignation and mockery. The second one was in 1876. It collected 20 artists. The third exhibition was in 1877 with 18 participants, 4th – from 10th of April till 11 May 1879, 16 participants, 5th – 1-30th of April 1880, 18 people, 6th – 2th of April till 1 of May 1881, 13 artists, 7th – in March 1882, 9 artists, 8th – the last one- from 15th of May till 15th of June, 17 artist, including neo-impressionists and symbolists. The group which organised the first exhibition gradually came apart duo to internal debates and contradictions. But the new generation of artist came along. Now they are calledpost-impressionists. The main impressionists were Frédéric Bazille, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley.

 

Impressionism

 

Introduction

Impressionists were determined to discover a semblance of the individual freedom, self-determinacy, and sensual pleasure that constituted the utopian legacy of enlightenment and revolution. Born around 1840, they beheld the industrialization of agriculture in the provinces and the humanisation of urban space in Paris. Thus the Impressionists were in the main passive witnesses of, or willing propagandists for, the emerging and modern “forms of bourgeois reaction” of their day, but the acuity of their observation and the depth of their enthusiasm brought severance between them and public.
The term Impressionism, used after 1874 to define the group of the artists, derives from the word impression. Such name was applied to the group by a journalist Lucien Leroy (he wrote an article about the first exhibition of “Societe cooperative d’artistes, peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs” in the Charivari for 25 April 1874 under the title l’Exposition des impressionists (Impressionists’ Exhibition)). The term was taken from the title of one of Claude Monet’s picture shown in the exhibition, Impression, sunrise (1872). The group of artists, including Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, brought up some innovations in their works that can be summed up under three rubrics
•           Rejection of chiaroscuro. By leaving areas of shadows thinly painted and areas of mass thickly painted with bright color and highlights, they established strong contrast between dark and light, shadow and mass, far and near. The effect of these changes from academic practice, reduced tonal contrast in the pictures and thereby flatten them.
•           The depiction of the interaction of light and color en plein air. Before the nineteenth century, artists drew but rarely painted out of doors. In the middle of the 19th century, so called Barbizon school (J. Corot, J.B. Jongkind, E. Boudin), made the first step and started panting of small outdoor etudes. However, these artists seldom painted fully finished composition out of doors. The Impressionists, on the other hand – especially Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Morisot and Sisley – painted mainly of their most ambitious works en plein air, and discovered a technique for evoking the interaction of light and air in nature.
•           The equalizing of brushstrokes across the surface of the canvas. Most paintings submitted for the Salon had a surface that was smooth, clean, and impersonal, whereas the most of Impressionists canvases had curse, irregular, and idiosyncratic surfaces. Individual brushstrokes are varied in with, breadth, and direction, so thus gave the paintings dynamic and rhythm.
The years between the first exhibition (it was in 1874, the Impressionists held 8 exhibitions in total) and about 1881 are generally regarded as the period of “high” Impressionism. The new stile didn’t last long and due to some arguments inside the Impressionists, the group gradually had fallen apart. A few reasons headed to the dispersion of the group. The stile that they confined themselves, was limiting their technique, sensibility and subjects. Some of them realized that they not transcribing nature, but simply abstracting from what they saw. But even they found themselves at the dead-end, nevertheless, eventually they opened the way to many new developments.

The Roots of Impressionism

It is well to remember that many of the ideas and practices fused and transformed by the Impressionists were already used in the early years of the century. Various ideas shared by the group were derived from Romanism. The landscapes and city scenes were inspired by their observations of the ordinary habits of their day. By the time of the second Empire a more hedonic and informal attitude had developed towards outdoor life. The natural and unconstrained scenes of everyday-life, picnics and boating parties, weren’t a daydreams but it was a generally accepted part of it. 
All The Impressionists at one time or another got influenced by Delacroix. His ideas of coloring and use of light that he transmitted to the younger generation facilitated some of the Impressionists’ experiments. In his watercolors painted in North Africa in 1832 or at Etretat in 1835, and particularly in his painting of The Sea at Dieppe (1852), there are clear anticipations of Impressionism.
The landscape painters who worked at Barbizon in the second half of the nineteenth century had a definite influence on the Impressionists. Once the artists of the group (Rousseau, Daubigny, Millet) had adopted open-air panting, study of light started progressing rapidly. Some of The Barbizon artists (such as Rousseau and Daubigny) painted a series of the same subject under different conditions – thus anticipated Monet.
However, it was the painters Corot and Courbet who played the most important part in leading up to Impressionism.
Corot showed them how to eliminate false shadows and artificially dark tones, creating space instead of tonality, simplify it in order to express a feeling of atmosphere (to make his grays he did not mix black and white but used the various colors of the prism to produce all sorts of grey tints - the technique that later got adopted by the Impressionists). Corot himself taught the Morisot sisters and Pissarro, and, his ideas got sprayed later across the group.
Gustave Courbet was the leader of the French realist school that originated during the 1848 Revolution. He came up with his realistic principals in the Courrier du Dimanche in 1861. He taught the artists (his principals were adopted at one time or other by Renoir, Cezanne, Bazille and Pissarro) to liberate themselves for the academic principals of the time, find attraction in ordinary objects of everyday life and appreciate beauty of real things.
In the later period   English school of painters played an important part in the evolution of Impressionism. During the war of 1870 Monet, Sisley and Pissarro went to London to study the work of the great English landscape artists such as Constable, Bonington and Turner.
Additionally, it can be said that even the scientific researches of the mid of 19th century, specifically optical ones (especially the construction of colors and structure of light), influenced the Impressionist. The scientist usually associated with the Impressionists is Eugene Chevreul, the French chemist, who did his research on color harmonies. The artists were decisively influenced by Chevreul’s discoveries; there are direct evidence that Monet and Pissarro (and, later, Seurat) had first-hand knowledge of his work. Invention of camera had considerable effect on mid-nineteenth century painting. There are some evidences that sometimes the artists used actual photographs as a basis for their compositions.

Events leading to the Impressionists exhibition of 1874

A passionate interest in modern expression and contemporary subjects must have been among the factors which drew Manet to Degas when they met in 1862. At that date Degas was still producing historical compositions in the pattern of his teacher Lamothe, and his mentor Ingres. Nevertheless, Manet was struck by Degas’s confidence as a copyist when he found him working in at the Louvre. Thus began a friendship which lasted until Manet’s death in 1883.
During the late 1860s Manet and his artist and critic friends met most often at the Café Guerbois on the Grande Rue des Batignolles. The cafes of Paris had long been favorite meeting –places for artist. Since 1860 Manet had occupied a studio in the Batignolles, and from 1866 the Café Guerbois in the quieter northern quarter, near the Place Clichy , became his favorite resort.
The core of the group consisted of Astruc, Duranty, Silvestre, Fantin-Latour and Degas.
The group of Artists (so called Batignolles group) was strongly united, and successive attacks from the body of conservative critics bound them still more firmly together.
Especially work of Manet Olimpia was in the focus of severe criticism when it was shown at the Salon in 1865.
By 1866 a new body of recruits had joined Manet at the Café Guerbois and the Salon: the four friends from Gleyre’s studio, Monet, Bazille, Renoir and Sisley. Renoir was connected with the Batignolles group through his early acquaintance with Fantin-Latour, Monet was introduced to Manet by Astruc in 1866, Bazille was already acquainted with Manet trough the Commandant and Madame Le Josne who were cousins of Bazille’s mother.
The possible topics of discussions among the artists were artistic technique, open-air techniques, use of shadows, relationships between a spontaneous sketch and a finished picture. Nearly everyone in the group was influenced by the Japanese art at the time but each of them derived something different from it.
The mood of solidarity among the Impressionists at the beginning of the 1870s is expressed in several group portraits such as Homage to Delacroix, 1864, A Studio in the Batignolles  Quarter, 1870 by Fantin-Latour, The Artist’s Studio, Rue de la Condamine, 1870 by Bazille.
In July 1870 the war with Prussia, broke out. Monet went to London, where he was introduced to  Durand-Ruel by Daubigny. Durand-Ruel was an art dealer who will play a significant role in establishing the Impressionists as recognisable artists and in promoting the art to the public.
Pissarro also found a shelter in London during the time of the war and met Monet frequently.
It is a still a controversial subject about the extent to which Monet and Pissarro were influenced by the works of Constable and Turner which they saw at this time.
It would seem that Pissarro’s style developed the more rapidly in England, although both of the artists achieved a looser technique and greater lightens of colour.
During the war Renoir stayed in France but had a little opportunity to paint.
The most tragic result of the war for the Impressionists group was the death of Bazille who was killed in action in 1870.
Soon after his return to France in 1872  Pissarro settled at Pontoise where he was accompanied by several friends including Cezanne.
For Degas post war period was especially fruitful. It was at this time, in 1871-1872 he began to paint his first pictures of ballet dancers. In the autumn of 1872 Degas made a visit to New Orleans.
Renoir remained in Paris seeking buyers and commissions. He continued to paint views of the city as he had done before the war. In 1872 he spent summer in Paris and Bougival, where he produced some of his purest impressionists works (Pont Neuf, 1872, Quai de Conti, 1872).

Meanwhile Monet moved to Argenteuil in 1872 with his family and was often visited by Renoir, Sisley and Manet.

In 1873 Durand-Ruel prepared and complete a catalogue of the contents of his gallery. It represented the finest works in his possession, which included pictures by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley and Degas, as well as the established masters of the Barbizon school in three volumes. But it was never published due to financial crisis in1873, which followed by depression.
A lot of work got rejected by the jury of the Salon of 1873 so a Salon des Refuses was set up again. But it wasn’t a satisfying solution for the Impressionists as their works simply would get lost among hundreds of mediocre pictures.
In 1867 Monet had a plan to orginise a group exhibition. But the most of the artists still believed that success could be achieved only within the Salon.
When Monet reverted to the idea in 1874 Degas supported hm. He wrote about it to Tissot and Legros with an invitation to participate. Pissarro and Renoir also took part in preparing the exhibition. Finally, thirty-nine artists agreed to participate with over 165 works. The exhibition was open from 15 April to 15 May 1874 in the Nadar Studios. Even the exhibition was taken hastily and got ridiculed in the press nevertheless it had given the group cohesion and brought perspectives of the further ventures.

The period of high Impressionism

The years between the first Impressionists exhibition and about 1881 are generally regarded as the period of mature, or “high” , Impressionism. It puzzling that the heyday of this new style shield have lasted for so short a time. The explanation for this in the inherent limitation of a style which attempts to transcribe nature. It was partly because they came to realise the they were not mere transcribing nature  (which the camera could do better), but epitomizing and abstracting from what they saw, that they found themselves in a stylistic impasse and eventually opened he way to many new developments.
The years of high Impressionism are specially well represented in the works of Renoir, Monet, Pissarro. Degas made enormous stride during the 1870s, but except for his originality of execution, it bore little relation to the art of his colleagues.
During the 1870s Renoir forged a style of rendering the life of his own day. The characters of Renoir which dance at Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre or attend boating parties at Chatou are solid, ordinary petits-bourgeois enjoying their real and characteristic pastimes. But the way in which Renoir painted these simple and direct subjects was far from naïve. He was in many ways the most instinctively professional painter of the whole group, with a light, sweeping, feathery brush-stroke and grater delicacy and unity than Pissarro or even Monet. This showed to particular advantage in his renderings of shimmering light or delicate young skin. He was the only Impressionist who invested contemporary life with a touch of social glamour and it is worth noting that during the 1870s Degas and Manet were producing very different versions of the modern scene.
In 1876 the Impressionists held their second exhibition, to which Renoir contributes fifteen works, some of which had already been bought by Croquet (Croquet became a particular friend and patron of Renoir, he was painted by Renoir several times). During 1876 Renoir paints, at least two of his most celebrated works (La Balancoire and Bal du moulin de la Galette) and met a new patron Georges Charpentier. Georges Charpentier played a significant role in establishing and recognizing Renoir as an artist in the rich bourgeois circles that allowed Renoir to secure himself financially. In the year 1880-81, just before stylistic problems began to worry him and to herald his so called "sour period, he received many commissions for portraits of rich bourgeois children, not always those of his friends. In 1878 one of his paintings The Cup of Coffee, was accepted by the Salon; after that he submitted other pictures there and did not participate in the fourth, fifth and sixth Impressionist exhibitions in 1879, 1880 and 1881.
On the other hand, Monet was much less successful in finding a rich and fashionable admires. In the winter of 1875 Monet was painting snow scenes in Argenteuil; the next year he showed sown of his La Grenouillere pictures at the second Impressionist exhibition. Then he began to paint his series of masterpieces depicting the Gare St-Lazare. At that time Monet was in very difficult financial situation. He constantly had to ask for finical help from Manet, Zola and others to pay off his landlord in Argenteuil. Finally, he could no longer afford to live in that neighborhood and had to rent a house further away from Paris, at Vetheuil. Despite of these years of misery and despair he painted such pictures as his bright, colourful Rue Montorgueil Decked out with Flags. By 1878 Monet's patron Hoschede had been ruined. In the spring of the following year Monet had been too poor and depressed to submit his pictures for the fourth Impressionist exhibition and in September his wife Camille died. Along with this break in his life came the end of his close friendship with the other members of the Impressionist group.
Most of Pissarro's woks from the mid -1860s to the mid-1870s have a more architectural quality than those of Monet and Renoir. He also used lines to define volumes more than they did. But in the late 1870s the balance between naturalism and intellectual design was broken and Pissarro had moved toward a new style of deliberately cultivated "Impressionism" that never suited him so well. It would seem that the style has no purpose behind it, appears contrived and decorative. Among the Impressionists, Pissarro had the best analytical brain and it is fitting that he shields have been the one to attempt or expand Impressionist technique. When questioned, he was prone to say that the method was easy to explain but that it took a lifetime to learn how to practice it. In his view, the chief characteristics of the method were the use of coloured light reflection and of unmixed colours. Also from all of the Impressionists, he was the most interested the ideas of younger artiest and most open to their influence. They felt free to come to him for advice and instructions and he recognised their talent and listened to their theories. Later he became a mentor of the young Paul Gauguin. After he met Paul Signac and George Seurat he embraced pointillist technique for a while (however he got bitterly disappointed in it later). Also he befriended the Dutchman, Vincent Van Gogh, who had arrived in Paris in 1886.
Degas's art had made enormous strides during the 1870s, but except for an originality of execution and a modernity of conception, it bore little relation to the works of his colleagues. He sought out striking modern subjects and treated them with increasing economy. His method was opposed to that of the other Impressionists, being based chiefly on working from memory. Many of his pictures of the early 1870s, such as The Cotton Market and the ballet scenes, take in a wide field and are full of details. As time passed, Degas chose to concentrate on smaller fragments, isolation fifers in striking poses that sum up an individual's character or trade.

The Dispersal of the Group


In 1880 and 1881 only three of the original leaders of the group participated in the Impressionists exhibitions: Degas, Pissarro and Berthe Morisot. The others, while foxing for a better reception at the Salon, abstained in defiance of Degas's increasing domination of the group shows. A division which had been felt from the start in the method of Degas's work and the slowness of his person, had developed into a major rift. He had always objected to the label Impressionist, and had introduced so many of his own followers to the exhibitions that two camps had emerged, one headed by Degas, the other (in the absence of Monet) by Pissarro and Berthe Morisot.
Monet and Renoir were incensed by introduction so many new participants by Degas to the exhibitions, like Raffaelli and Vidal, who they considered lacked talent and compromised the movement, while Degas criticised them as renegades for returning to the Salon. Pissarro and Caillebotte strove against all odds to hold the group together. They tried to persuade Degas to give up his circle of camp followers in order to induce Monet, Renoir and Sisley to return, but without success.
Towards the middle of 1880s the Impressionists moved further afield, each of them trying new methods and forms, so that break-up of the group was accompanying by physical dispersal. Renoir moved away in 1885 from Paris to La Roche-Guyon, and later to Essoyes, Monet moved to Poissy from Vetheuil, and in 1883 he settled further tail from Paris, at Giverny, Sisley moved in 1882 to Moret, Pissarro moved the same year to Osny and, in 1884, further north still to Eragny, while Cezanne led an increasingly hermit-like existence in Provence.
The last occasion on which the Impressionists appeared before the public as a united group was in 1882 when Caillebotte, Pissarro and Durand-Ruel succeeded, in the face of considerable reluctance, in persuading the disheartened and estranged friends to exhibit again together (Caillebotte, Berthe Morisot, Pissarro, Guillaumin, Gauguin, Vignon, Monet, Renoir, Sisley).

Conclusion

Impressionism is the true precursor of 20th century art. Its deliberately breaking down of forms and its exercises in colour abstraction anticipate Mondrian and Mark Rothko. Both Monet, in his water –lily studies at Giverny and Turner , in his  harbor, say things that much recent abstract art when preoccupied with atmosphere and texture has not managed to add to or surpass.
Out of the movement were born the four great geniuses whose achievements straddled the last century and those – Cezanne , Van Gogh , Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec – whose work in their later years was termed “Post Impressionists”. The battles the Impressionists fought in their time were the major battles of modern art – to break through the prejudices and assumptions of “socially accepted art”. In the last three decades of the 19th century, European consciousness was radically changed. We see the results of this fall around us now. It led to the defiance of the modern artists to accept hos work on his terms , hos refusal to be hemmed in by the medium or environment and a steadfast opposition to establishment values. All these  stances are the direct consequences of the courageous questioning and unswerving initiative shown by the Impressionists in their day.


The Artists of the Group

 

Edouard Manet


Manet was born in Paris to wealthy parents and his artistic talents were apparent early in his life. In 1850, after a short stint in the French navy, he joined the studio of Thomas Couture  a Neo-Classical painter who steered his students away from an obsessive attention to detail.
Manet’s work was remarkable for its modernity, both in terms of technique and subject matter - qualities that attracted the admiration of a younger group of painters who came to be known as the Impressionists. Despite challenging the views of the art establishment, Manet craved official acceptance for his work. Consequently, he never exhibited with the Impressionists, although his work influenced their development. Manet spent much time with members of the Impressionist group in the cafes of Paris, and during the 1870s he painted in an Impressionist style. Much of his subject matter was also in keeping with the spirit of his contemporary, Edgar Degas.
In 1883, Manet’s achievements were recognised by the state when he was awarded the ligion d’Honneur.

Edgar Degas


Edgar Degas came from a wealthy family and trained initially as a historical painter. However, his interest in modern motifs became apparent in the early 1860s, when he began to paint racecourses.
He was also a gifted portrait painter, sowing a rare insight into the character of his sitters. From early on, Degas’s work is almost abstract in its concern for design and pattern and its use of unusual viewpoints. In 1869, his exhibited at the official Paris Salon for the last time, exhibiting independently thereafter.
Degas was instrumental in organizing the first independent Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and was involved in all but one of their subsequent exhibitions. Many of his contemporary motifs proved offensive to the public. At the Impressionist exhibition of 1886 his pastels of women at their toilette (perfectly acceptable in a classical setting) caused uproar.
From the 1890s, as his eyesight began to deteriorate, Degas painted loose images in pastel, and produced models in wax.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Renoir, who began his career a porcelain painter, was a founder member of Impressionists, with Monet, in 1860. Bazille and Sisley soon joined the group and from 1863 they began to work out of doors near Barbizon , where Renoir also befriended Camille Pissarro  and Paul Cezanne. He exhibited t the first three Impressionist exhibitions and at the seventh. Otherwise, he showed his work at private one-man exhibitions and at the Paris Salon. Until the 1890s, Renoir was generally more interested in painting people than landscapes. Unlike some of the other Impressionists, he favored society portraits and pictures of the middle-classes at play. He painted with soft caressing ,almost sensual, brushstrokes – there is no trace of the darker undertones found in the work of Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas.
Renoir became dissatisfied with his style and in 1881 travelled to North Africa and Italy. For a few years he practices a harder, more ‘classical’ style, in which forms were far more clearly delineated.

Claude Monet


Claude Monet was born in Le Havre. In 1895 he moved to Paris, where he  met Bazille, Pissarro, Sisley and Renoir. They soon began painting together outdoors. Unlike Manet and Degas, Monet was not concerned with painting the realities of modern life. His interest lay in nature and the fleeting , natural effects of light. Monet’s few paintings of interiors and his images of city life are merely and excuse to study light in a different environment. Success was long in coming and for many years his family suffered hardship. His first wife, Camille, died of cancer in 1879 and thereafter he lived with Alice Hoschede, the wife of a bankrupt former patron.
Monet is best known for his series paintings, in which he explored particular subjects in differing light conditions at various times of day, most famously his series of haystacks , poplar trees and Rouen Cathedral. His waterlily paintings, produced almost exclusively from 1899 when his moved to Giverny, just outside Paris, are a natural progression of this. As his eyesight deteriorated his work became increasingly abstract.
Monet died an artistic rebel , an inspiration for the abstract movement and the new avant-garde.

Camille Pissarro


Pissarro was born in the West Indies, although he had Danish nationality. The oldest of the Impressionists, he went to Paris in 1885, where he painted in the manner of the landscapist Gustave Courbet. He was a founder member of the Impressionist group, and the only one to exhibit at all eight independent exhibition. Pissarro was highly influential in the early work of Paul Cezanne, who worked with him at Louveciennes for ten years. From 1888, he suffered with eye problems and stopped working in the open air. Instead he concentrated on views of city life, usually painted looking down from hotel windows. In 1889 with the other Impressionists, he exhibited at the Paris World Fair. During the 1890s his work became increasingly well known. Between the mid-1880s and 1890, under the influence of Georges Seurat, Pissarro painted in the ‘scientific’ divisionist or pointillist style. From the 1880s,  he also began to concentrate in figures as the subjects of his work.

Alfred Sisley


Alfred Sisley was English but was born in Paris, to wealthy parents. He had planned to be a businessman but in 1875 began to draw. In 1862 he met Monet, Bazille, and Renoir at Charles Gleyre’s studio in Paris. With them, he painted in the open air in the woods near the village of Barbizon.
An enthusiastic follower of Monet, Sisley was a committed landscape artist. Of all the Impressionists, he experimented the least with his style and technique, painting in the same manner throughout his career although there is a more brittle quality to his late work. Sisley’s main focus was to paint the landscape around him , usually seen from a distance and disappearing to a vanishing point on the horizon.
Sisley died of cancer in 1899, and his finances were in such a poor state that his fellow artists made a collection foe his children. At a posthumous auction of his works, however he prices – so low in his lifetime – rose dramatically.

Berthe Morisot

Morisot, the daughter of a top civil servant and great-great-niece of the rococo artist Jean-Honore Fragonard, grew up in a cultured environment. Between 1860 and 1862 she was a pupil of French landscape painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, who advised her to paint put of doors. She came into contact with the Impressionists through Edouard Manet, whom she befriended in 1869. She married Manet’s brother and persuaded Manet to experiment with painting outside to abandon his predominant use of black and to adopt a lighter, Impressionist palette.
Morisot exhibited at all but one of the Impressionist exhibitions. She excelled at portraits and domestic scenes, which she imbued with a spontaneity and light , airy quality. She always worked in the Impressionist style and had a rare understanding of tonal harmony. She was also highly skilled in the use of watercolors.

Bibliography

 

Bibliography

Barras Hill, Ian, Paintings of the Western World. Impressionism. Amsterdam, 1980

Eisenman F. Stephen, Nineteenth Century Art A Critical History. London, 1996

Pool, Phoebe, Impressionism. London, 1988

Serullaz, Maurice, Phaidon encyclopedia of Impressionism. New York, 1978

Wilson, Michael, The Impressionists. New York, 2002

 

Gallery

 

Degas, Edgar, L'Absinthe, 1876

 Berthe Morisot, The Cradle, 1872

Camille Pissarro, Boulevard Montmartre, 1897

Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), 1872

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Bal du moulin de la Galette), 1876

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