Impressionism is a movement that came out of France in the 1860s. Impressionist art is defined as something that tries to capture a moment rather than an object or subject. This makes the effects of light and movement very important to the art in the Impressionist genre. Even within this movement, though, these artists still created a wide range of artworks and subject matter for viewers.
1. Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a French Impressionist and is often credited with helping to kickstart the Impressionist Movement. The term “Impressionism” actually comes from the title of one of his paintings Impression, Sunrise, or Impression, Soleil levant, in the original French.
He’s also well-known as one of the most prolific plein air landscape painters. This is the practice of painting outdoors rather than recreating the landscapes he made from inside a studio. He believed this allowed him to be as close to his subject as possible.
2. Edgar Degas
While Monet was a pioneer among landscape painters, Degas drew his inspiration from dance and dancers. Most of his paintings depict ballerinas in different environments and poses. Female nudes became a large part of this series of art. He also often painted horses in races and with their jockeys.
As a portrait artist, he was well-known for capturing the complexity of a person within a single frame. One of his most commonly used themes was human isolation which he most often portrayed through the use of portraiture.
3. Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was another French Impressionist as well as a printmaker, sculptor, and draughtsman. He was well-known for his use of color in his paintings and often pulled his practice as a draughtsman into the creation of his paintings. In fact, his use of color earned him a place in the Fauvism Movement as well as a place among Impressionists. He is often put on par with Picasso when it comes to the historical impact he had as an artist in the early 20th century. As his life drew to a close, he transitioned from painting into paper collages.
4. Camille Pissarro
Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro, often recognized simply as Camille Pissarro, was a Danish-French Impressionist. He actually lived during the precipice of artistic movements and was recognized both as an Impressionist and Post-Impressionist. The latter was a practice picked up later in his life, around the time he turned 54 and on.
Post-Impressionism uses many of the same techniques as Impressionism but ignored some of the limitations that the style imposed. For example, many artists of the Post-Impressionist Movement declined to use the natural lighting of Impressionism and swapped in colors that were more vibrant than their natural muses.
5. Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French artist who lived from 1841 to 1919. His art heavily influenced the Impressionism Movement and he is often cited as one of the leading developers of the movement.
As for his subject matter, Renoir focused on the beauty and sensuality of women. As such, a lot of his work focused on female subjects. These weren’t only nude portraits like many artists, though. Instead, he added to his repertoire women out on the town, interacting with other individuals, and out at events.
That being said, he didn’t limit himself to this subject matter. He also painted portraits of men and even captured the innocence of youth.
6. Mary Cassatt
Mary Cassatt is a talented artist that earns her place in art history. She was an American artist from Pennsylvania with specialties in painting and printmaking. She wasn’t only an Impressionist herself but friends with other Impressionists of her time, namely Edgar Degas, who has already been discussed.
Cassatt used her art to capture women in their private lives. This wasn’t in the form of intimate nudes but rather she focused on their intimate familial relationships such as the bonds between mothers and their children. She was careful and skilled in how she depicted light and movement.
7. Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin was another artist that marked the transition from the Impressionist Movement and into the Post-Impressionist Movement. In other words, he was more experimental than his fellow Impressionist. This was especially true when it came to the colors in Gauguin’s art. He often veered away from the strictly realistic and towards more imaginative Synthesism and even avant-garde styles.
Unfortunately, Gauguin’s art would go unappreciated during his lifetime. Now, he’s considered a pioneer and his art is considered on par with many of the masters of his generation.
Impressionism is one of the most instantly recognizable artistic movements over the centuries and its the theme behind many of the greatest artists in history. These seven artists represent the pillars of the movement but they’re far from the only Impressionists who ever graced a canvas. The movement has much more to offer if you’re interested.