Impressionists Artists How they left their mark

Animation, Ceramics, Architecture, Drawing, Canvas,... these are all types of art. Forms of art that have existed for thousands of years. But, in this article, I am going to talk about one type of art that really gets my attention: Impressionism. What is impressionism? Who created it? How did the artist affect the art world?

The creation


“Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.”


Impressionism is a style of art that consists of making small, thin, but visible brush strokes. It was created in Paris, France in April 1874 by a group of young artists. Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were among that group. You might know some of their work, Water Lilies by Monet; Ballet Rehearsal by Degas; Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir and so on. The first exhibition was in 1874. It was received with interest and puzzlement by the crowd, but it was ridiculed by the popular press when the arrogant critic Louis Leroy called the group ‘Impressionists’. They named it ‘Impressionism’ after observing Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (c. 1872) when Monet told the story behind the naming of the painting:

“They wanted to know its title for the catalog; [because] it couldn’t really

pass for a view of Le Havre. I replied, ‘Use Impression.’ Someone derived.

‘Impressionism’ for it and that’s when the fun began.”

“They wanted to know its title for the catalog; [because] it couldn’t really

pass for a view of Le Havre. I replied, ‘Use Impression.’ Someone derived.

‘Impressionism’ for it and that’s when the fun began.”

The Founding Fathers:

Claude Monet

One of the most outstanding painters in history and a role model in the Impressionist style, whose work can be seen in museums all over the world, Oscar Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France. Adolphe, Monet's father, worked in the family’s shipping business, and his mother, Louise, took care of the house and the family. When Monet was 5, he and his family moved to Le Havre, a town in the Normandy region. There he grew up with his parents and his older brother, Leon.

Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbor, Le Havre

Even though he was a decent student, Monet didn’t like being stuck in a classroom all day. He liked the outsides better. At a young age, Monet grew a love of drawing. He filled his school books with sketches of people, including portraits of his teachers. While his mother supported his artistic talent, Monet's father wanted him to go into business. Monet suffered a lot after his mother died in 1857.

After meeting Eugene Boudin, a provincial landscape artist, Monet started to draw the natural world in his work. Boudin introduced him to painting outdoors, or plein air painting, which would later become the base of Monet's work. In 1859, Monet decided to move to Paris to seek his art. There, he was strongly motivated by the paintings of the Barbizon school and enlisted as a student at the Academie Suisse. During this time, Monet met fellow artist Camille Pissarro, who would become a close friend for many years.

From 1861 to 1862, Monet served in the military and was stationed in Algiers, Algeria, but he was discharged for health reasons.

Monet's personal life was marked by hardship around this time. His wife, Camille Doncieux, became ill during her second pregnancy (their second son, Michel, was born in 1878), and she continued to deteriorate. Monet painted a portrait of her on her deathbed.

Before Camille's passing, the Monets went to live with Ernest and Alice Hoschede and their six children. After Camille's death, Monet painted a grim set of paintings known as the Ice Drift series. He grew closer to Alice, and the two eventually became romantically involved. Ernest spent much of his time in Paris, and he and Alice never divorced. Monet and Alice moved with their respective children in 1883 to Giverny, a place that would serve as a source of great inspiration for the artist and prove to be his final home. After Ernest's death, Monet and Alice married in 1892. He was the only one left of the group that still painted Impressionism. He died on December 5, 1926 in Giverny, France.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France. He was the sixth son of a tailor and a seamstress 1, but two of his older siblings died as children. The family moved to Paris sometime between 1844 and 1846, living near the Louvre, a world-famous art museum. As a teenager, Renoir became a pupil of a porcelain painter. He learned to copy designs, to decorate plates and other dishware, etc.... Soon enough, Renoir started doing other types of decorative painting for a living. He also went to free drawing classes at a city-sponsored art school, which was run by sculptor Louis-Denis Caillouette.

Using imitation as a learning tool, a nineteen-year-old Renoir started studying and copying some of the famous works hanging at the Louvre. Then he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 2, a famous art school, in 1862. Renoir also became a student of Charles Gleyre. At Gleyre’s studio, Renoir soon became friends with three other young artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. And through Monet, he met such interesting talents as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.

Charles Gleyre

In 1864, Renoir got accepted into the annual Paris Salon exhibit. There he showed the painting, "La Esmeralda," which was a character in Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris. The following year, Renoir showed up at the esteemed Salon again, this time displaying a portrait of William Sisley, the wealthy father of artist Alfred Sisley. While his Salon works helped fame his image in the art world, Renoir had to struggle to make a living. He hunted out commissions for portraits and often depended on the kindness of his friends, mentors, and patrons. The artist Jules Le Coeur and his family were strong supporters of Renoir's for many years. Renoir also stayed close to Monet, Bazille, and Sisley, sometimes, he stayed at their homes or shared their studios. According to many biographies, he didn’t seem to have a permanent address during his early career.

William Sisley

Around 1867, Renoir met Lise Tréhot, a seamstress who became his model. She was the model for works like "Diana" (1867) and "Lise" (1867). The two also reportedly became romantically involved. According to some reports, she gave birth to his first child, a daughter named Jeanne, in 1870. Renoir never publicly acknowledged his daughter during his lifetime. Renoir had to take a break from his work in 1870 when he was devised into the army to serve in France's war against Germany. He was assigned to a cavalry unit, but he soon fell ill with dysentery. Renoir never saw any action during the war, unlike his friend Frederic Bazille who was killed that November.

Frederic Bazille

After the war ended in 1871, Renoir went back to Paris. He and some of his friends, including Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne and Edgar Degas, decided to show their works on their own in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition. The group's name was adopted from a critical review of their show, in which the paintings were called "impressions" instead of finished paintings done using traditional methods. Renoir, like other Impressionists, adopted a brighter palette for his paintings, which gave them a warmer and sunnier feel. He also used different types of brushstrokes to capture his artistic vision on the canvas. While the first exhibition was not a success, Renoir soon found other backup patrons to launch his career.

The wealthy publisher Georges Charpentier and his wife Marguérite took a lot of interest in the artist and invited him to lots of social gatherings at their Paris home. The Charpentiers introduced Renoir to a lot of famous writers such as Gustave Flaubert and Émile Zola. He also received portrait authority from the couple's friends. His 1878 painting, "Madame Charpentier and her Children," was advertised in the official Salon of next year and brought him much critical attention. Funded with the money from his commissions, Renoir made several journeys that inspired him in the early 1880s. He visited Algeria and Italy and spent some time in the southern France. While in Naples, Italy, Renoir worked on a portrait of the famed composer Richard Wagner. He also painted three of his most famous works, "Dance in the Country," "Dance in the City" and "Dance at Bougival" around this time.

As his fame grew, Renoir began to settle down. He finally married his longtime girlfriend Aline Charigot in 1890. The two already had a son, Pierre, who was born in 1885. Aline served as a model for many of his works, including "Mother Nursing Her Child" (1886). His growing family, with the additions of sons Jean in 1894 and Claude in 1901, also provided inspiration for a number of paintings. As he aged, Renoir continued to use his trademark of feathery brushstrokes to create mainly rustic and domestic scenes.

His work, however, proved to be more and more physically challenging for the artist. Renoir first battled with rheumatism 3 in the mid-1890s and the disease tormented him for the rest of his life. In 1907, Renoir bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer where he built an elegant home for his family. He continued to work, painting whenever he could. The disease had disfigured his hands, leaving his fingers permanently curled. Renoir also had a stroke in 1912, which left him in a wheelchair. Around this time, he tried his hand at sculpture. He worked with assistants to create works based on some of his paintings.

The world-famous Renoir continued to paint until his death. He lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a huge honor for any artist. Renoir died that December at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. He was buried next to his wife, Aline (who died in 1915), in her hometown of Essoyes, France. Besides leaving behind over two hundred works of art, Renoir served as an idol to so many other artists—Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso are just a few who benefitted from Renoir's artistic style and methods.

And, Finally…

So many artists were inspired by these two and many others. These are people who left their mark for everyone to see, enjoy, and get inspired by.

“Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained it is no longer art.” -Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand when it’s simply necessary to love.” -Claude Monet

Art is a way of expressing yourself. Art is a way of creating tiny miracles that can sometimes impact the whole world. These people didn’t do art for the money, or the fame. They did art because they loved it, they grew up with it, and that is all the motivation they needed.

1 Seamstress: female tailor

2 Ecole des Beaux-Arts: School of Fine Arts

3 Rheumatism: Any disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue, especially rheumatoid arthritis.


Created with images by hannibal1107 - "Impressionism" • Brokentaco - "Missouri 20-22 July 2010"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.