6 Amazing Impressionist Artists Every Collector Should Know About

Impressionism is a style of painting that was developed in France in the mid to late 1800s. The artistic movement is characterized by small, visible brushstrokes that merely suggest form, along with an emphasis on the depiction of natural light and vivid, unblended color.

Today, the term conjures images of delicate ballet dancers in muted colors and turquoise lily ponds. However, in their time, Impressionist artists were met with controversy and derision. Putting aside the lofty themes of religion, history, and myth, these artistic pioneers fearlessly turned their attention to using radical new techniques to capture everyday scenes.

This article explores the lives and works of six iconic Impressionist artists.

1. Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Born in Limoges, France in 1841, Renoir is renowned for his eye for beauty. In fact, he is recognized as one of the movement’s most popular artists today. Working alongside Claude Monet, he played an essential role in the development of the Impressionist style through the late 1860s. The decidedly human element to Renoir’s work sets him apart from most of his contemporaries.

With a brilliant eye for both the fashions of the day and intimate domesticity, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is best known for his bustling Parisian scenes. He was a celebrated colorist with a keen eye for capturing movement of light and shadows. Towards the end of his career, Renoir began to explore the High Renaissance style, integrating more line and composition in his later works.

2. Claude Monet

It is impossible to talk about Impressionist art without talking about Monet. Born in a small town in Normandy, Claude Monet moved to Paris at the age of 19 to pursue his passion for painting. He burst onto the art scene with vibrant canvases depicting the fast-changing, modern French capital.

Although he is best known for his country landscapes today, Monet focused on urban landscapes for some time. He literally filled canvas after canvas with depictions of train stations, bridges, and city skylines. He would often repaint the same scene over and over again, such as the Gare Saint-Lazare, which he committed to canvas around a dozen times.

3. Edgar Degas

Arguably the most controversial personality of the Impressionist movement, Edgar Degas was a man of contradictions. Born in 1834, he is said to have hated women, flowers, animals, and children. Although he was elitist, austere, unsympathetic, and misogynistic, it is surprising to note that he was, nonetheless, quite popular among his contemporaries. He frequently organized and participated in collective exhibitions.

Degas is best known for his interior scenes depicting ballerinas, orchestras, and bathers, as well as his portraits and equestrian scenes. Ultimately, he overstepped the mark with his artist friends when his antisemitic leanings came to the fore during the Dreyfus Affair, and he was promptly ostracized by his former friends Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley.

4. Edouard Manet

Manet’s works predominantly focused on Parisian life. Several of his paintings of female nudes generated huge controversy. Manet’s unique style set him apart from his contemporaries. Unusually, he also shunned the many Impressionist exhibitions staged in Paris.

Edouard Manet’s works capture common objects and everyday life. He depicts the city and its suburbs; cafes and bars; and singers, beggars, and workers. Manet’s brushstrokes were loose, sometimes leaving parts of the canvas bare. This triggered censure from the art critics of his day, who suggested that his works appeared unfinished.

Some of the most famous works by Edouard Manet include Concert in the Tuileries Gardens, Luncheon in the Studio, and Portrait of Berthe Morisot.

5. Camille Pissarro

Touted as the “dean of Impressionist painters” by the celebrated art historian John Rewald, Pissarro was ambitious and unrelenting in his passion for art. He made history as the only Impressionist painter to showcase all of his works at all eight Paris Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886. He was described by his contemporary Pierre-Auguste Renoir as “revolutionary.”

Pissarro was born on the island of St Thomas, which is now in the US Virgin Islands. During his time, it formed part of the Danish West Indies. Determined to capture the “common man,” Pissarro insisted on painting his subjects in natural settings, without grandeur or artifice.

6. Gustave Caillebotte

Although he also was connected to the artistic movement known as Realism, Gustave Caillebotte played an important role in the development of Impressionist art. Renowned for his neutral tones, naturalist hues, and attention to perspective and space, Caillebotte’s works are distinct from those of other artists of his era. They often mimic the style of ukiyo-e Japanese artists by adopting tilted perspectives, depicting stretching river scenes and boulevards in Paris.

Born in the French capital to a wealthy family, Gustave Caillebotte studied art at the École des Beaux-Arts. After inheriting a sizeable estate, he was able to fund more than his own career. He also provided financial support to Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, and others by purchasing their work.

Today, Gustave Caillebotte’s work is exhibited by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among other institutions.

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Julio Herrera Velutini

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