Impression, sunrise 1873
Impression, sunrise 1873
Claude Monet

Impressionism was developed by Claude Monet and other Paris-based artists from the early 1860s. Instead of painting in a studio, the impressionists found that they could capture the momentary and transient effects of sunlight by working quickly, in front of their subjects, in the open air rather than in a studio. This resulted in a greater awareness of light and colour and the shifting pattern of the natural scene. Brushwork became rapid and broken into separate dabs in order to render the fleeting quality of light. The first group exhibition was in Paris in 1874 and included work by Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Paul Cezanne. The work shown was greeted with derision with Monet’s Impression, Sunrise particularly singled out for ridicule and giving its name to the movement. Seven further exhibitions were then held at intervals until 1886. Other core artists of impressionism were Camille Pissarro and Auguste Renoir, with Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet also often associated with the movement.


Self–Portrait with a Straw Hat 1887 Vincent van Gogh
Self–Portrait with a Straw Hat 1887
Vincent van Gogh

Post-Impressionism is a term used to describe the reaction in the 1880s against Impressionism. It was led by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat. The Post-Impressionists rejected Impressionism’s concern with the spontaneous and naturalistic rendering of light and color. Instead they favored an emphasis on more symbolic content, formal order and structure. Similar to the Impressionists, however, they stressed the artificiality of the picture. The Post-Impressionists also believed that color could be independent from form and composition as an emotional and aesthetic bearer of meaning. Both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism include some of the most famous works of modern art such as Monet’s Waterlilies, a Series of Waterscapes and van Gogh’s Starry Night. Impressionism and Post-Impressionism continue to be some of the most well-known and beloved of artistic movements.