History’s 6 Greatest Impressionist Painters

Thanks to the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Guggenheim, New York is home to one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world, second only to Paris.

Impressionist painters were characterised by their emphasis on colour and dynamic brushwork and revolutionised art in the 19th century, paving the way for Modern Art which arose in the century following. These are history’s 6 greatest Impressionist painters.

6. Édouard Manet (1832-1883)

Originally influenced by the works of the Old Masters such as Velaquez, Hals, and Goya, Manet broke away from this classic style by introducing elements of modern life into his scenes.

Even though he is considered to be one of the leading figures of the movement, his work was dissimilar from other Impressionist artists and only adopted the loose brushstrokes synonymous with the movement later in his career.

5. Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Monet is known as the father of Impressionism and even provided the name for the movement with his painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise) in 1872. Renowned for his delicate studies of light and colour, Monet frequently returned to the same themes in order to capture them in different light or the changing seasons.

Much of Monet’s work was inspired by aspects of the garden he cultivated, such as the garden’s lily pond.

4. Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Calling himself a realist as opposed to an Impressionist, Degas is known for his studies of dancing and horseracing – he would undoubtedly have enjoyed Bendigo Cup betting – and was largely influenced by the then-emerging medium of photography.

His works often depict moments frozen in time and unlike many of his contemporaries, Degas abhorred painting outdoors and once remarked “no art was ever less spontaneous than mine”.

3. Camille Pissaro (1830-1903)                                                                                                                                               

A transitional figure between the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, Pissaro’s works are characterised by short brushstrokes and staccato daubs reminiscent more of Seurat and Cézanne than Monet’s more fluid style.

Known for capturing bustling city streets, Pissaro also enjoyed painting outdoors and captured many rural landscapes throughout his career. Born in the American Virgin Islands, Pissaro lived in London for a time and frequently returned to the city to capture scenes of life.

2. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Arguably the most renowned of the Impressionist painters, Renoir captured the universe of Belle Époque Paris as a kind of dilettante idyll through his sensual style.

From the idealistic renderings of his subjects to lush landscapes, Renoir entered the Impressionist movement after meeting with Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille and Monet while studying with Charles Gleyre, a Swiss artist.

1. Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

Cassatt is the most well-known of the female Impressionist painters and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine arts in Philadelphia ahead of moving to Paris in 1886.

As a close friend and devotee of Degas, Cassatt’s works are characterised by her profound domestic scenes often centred on women and girls and was later influenced by period fashion in France and Japanese design.