This piece is dedicated to Mary Cassatt. Described by Gustave Geffroy as one of the three great ladies of impressionism (Lestroisgrande dames), her work was compared to Degas.
They were both known to depict light, design, and movement in the most contemporary sense and profoundly impacted the history of modern art.
Impressionist art has dominated the world of art for almost 150 years. Impressionism has played an essential role in modern art style.
Artists that prescribe to this discipline try to capture the ‘impression’ of the light, object, and atmosphere rather than the reflection of real life. The aesthetics of the paintings is one of a kind with captivating canvases.
Artists, such as Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro, have been hailed as the most famous impressionists across the art world. However, many people have overlooked the incredibly talented female impressionist artists.
“I am Independent! I can live alone and I love to work.”
– Mary Cassatt
Mary Stevenson Cassatt was born into a prosperous upper-middle-class family. Her father was a stockbroker, and her mother came from a banking family.
They resided in Germany and France between 1851 and 1855. Mary was exposed to European art and culture at an early age.
She learned German and French. Little did she know these language skills would serve her career well in the later stage of her life.
Not much is known about her childhood, but historical account states that she may have visited Paris World’s Fair in 1855 and viewed the artworks of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Jean-Auguste-Dominique, and Eugene Delacroix.
At the age of 16, Mary Cassatt began her studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1860. After five years, she tried to convince her parents to let her continue her studies abroad.
After the initial misgivings, they couldn’t help but agree; then, she moved to Paris to study with Jean-Leon Gerome.
She returned to the United States for a brief period between 1870 and 1871. Disappointed with the lack of opportunities and artistic resources in the art world, she again traveled to Paris.
She also went to Italy, Holland, and Spain to familiarize herself with the work of artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Antonio da Corregio, and Deigo Velazquez.
Her notable artwork mostly surrounded women and their daily lives. Her work was a beautiful depiction of what women did with their time in those days. Some of her famous works are:
This artwork was part one of her very first exhibition held in 1874. Mary Cassatt’s work so moved Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas at the Salon that after a couple of years, he asked her to showcase her work at an exhibition alongside other exhibitionists. She was the one American in the art circle.
In her painting, Woman reading Mary focused on the everyday lives of middle-class women, such as welcoming friends for tea, reading, answering letters.
The art critics of those times found her work refreshing and demonstrative of her ability to work wonderfully with colors and the subject.
In such paintings, an observation of accidental gestures made the scenes look fresh and new. In Five O’Clock by Mary Cassatt, two women appear to be gazing at something to their right side.
It looks as if they are staring at something or someone that is out of frame or beyond the canvas. The guest is wearing her gloves and hat and taking a sip of tea, which covers half of her face.
Progressively, Cassatt’s work became more intimate and attained poignancy incomparable to her contemporaries.
Some of the other artwork by Mary Cassatt are:
Despite the discouragement faced by women of her time to pursue a career, Mary Cassatt enrolled in an academic institute at the tender age of 16. As expected, she was patronized and resented by male fellow students.
She also became frustrated with the inadequate courses and slow-paced work. She decided to leave the academy and moved to Europe to learn the works of arts by veteran artists firsthand. Despite her father’s stern objections, she traveled to Paris in 1866.
She took private art lessons in the Louvre and continued to study relative obscurity for two years. In 1868 one of her paintings was selected at the Prestigious Paris Salon, an exhibition run annually by the French Government.
Mary Cassatt was the ‘New Woman’ of the 19th century. She was a highly trained and successful artist of her time, who never felt the need to get married.
She initiated the creation of the image of a ‘new woman’ mostly inspired by her mother, who believed women should be educated, socially active, and possess profound knowledge about the world, much like their male counterparts. Her mother, Katherine Cassatt, is depicted in ‘Reading ‘Le Figaro’ (1878).
Although she did not make any political statements about women’s role in society, her artistic portrayal of women was done to suggest a meaningful inner life.
She became proficient in pastels and created most of her artwork using this medium. Degas taught her etching, and they both worked together for a while. She gained a considerable amount of artistic knowledge and strength under his mentor-ship.
In her late years, Mary Cassatt witnessed the emergence of the modern art style in the United States and Europe. However, her style remained the same.
She is considered the most notable Female American artists of the 1800s, along with James McNeill Whistler and Singer Sargent. She has been an influence on many female artists. Her work has been discussed by feminist art historians Linda Nochlin and Griselda Pollock.
Mary Cassatt’s public legacy is her influence on Americans who collected her artwork and displayed it in the museums. One example was Louisine Elder Havemeyer, an impressionist art collector whose collection was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Alfred Sisley is the underdog of the art world. Despite having a talent and skill for impressionism, he has been overshadowed by his famous contemporaries, such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet.
In light of this, let’s dedicate this piece to one of the figureheads of impressionism, Alfred Sisley.
Alfred Sisley was born in Parents to English Parents. His father, William Sisley, was in the silk business, and his mother, Felicia Sell was a music connoisseur. Alfred was sent to London at the age of 18 to study business, but he dropped out of university after four years and returned to Paris.
All of them would paint landscapes in the open air to realistically capture the lighting and effects of the sunlight.
Doing so resulted in colorful paintings. The approach was deemed innovative in those times, and painting were created in the public eye.
Sisley and his fellow artists had fewer resources and opportunities to showcase their artwork at the exhibitions.
Unlike others around him, Sisley received a hefty allowance from his father until 1870, after which he became poor.
There is no record of Sisley’s work in his younger years. The earliest painting was believed to be painted in 1864, ‘Lane near a small town.’
His earlier landscape paintings depict a sombre tone, with dark brown, pale blues and green colors. They are often painted at Maryl and Saint-cloud.
In 1866, he got into a relationship with Eugenie Lesouezec, also known as Marie Lescouezec. She was a Breton residing in Paris. They had two children.
He spent most of his adult life in bad financial conditions, especially after his father’s business failed in 1870. He would make ends meet by selling his artwork. His artwork rose in monetary value only after his demise.
In 1880 Sisley and his family moved to a village near Moret-su-Loing. It was close to forest Fontainebleau. Most of the painters of the Barbizon school had worked there.
Art historian Anne Poulet has stated, “the gentle landscapes with their constantly changing atmosphere were perfectly attuned to his talents. Unlike Monet, he never sought the drama of the rampaging ocean or the brilliantly colored scenery of the Cote d’Azur.”
Sisley lived in Paris for most of his life, apart from a few trips to London in 1874, 1881, and 1987. Although it has been suggested that J.M.W Turner and John Constable influenced the artwork, little is known about his relationship with their paintings. He may have possibly come across their work on his trip to London.
This landscape painting was displayed in an exhibition at the Salon in 1868. It depicts a hunting trail going through a thick and lush forest close to La Celle village. Sisley painted the subjects twice before, and the intense color scheme and subject matter resemble the paintings of the Barbizon school.
Footbridge of Argenteuil is a painting that showcases modern life at the end of the 19th century. The subject matter is not something Sisley would paint. However, the painting is still representative of his style.
This painting is inspired by Japanese prints, where the focus is mainly on the composition. The bridge flattens composition and dominates the entire canvas. He used lines that evoke the sharp movement mimicking the speed of modern life.
The balance between the dark and light colors is harmonious and enables the eyes to move quickly from one point to another, giving the illusion of movement.
The River Loing at Saint-Mammes was painted in 1885. It shows a port where Seine and Loing rivers meet. Sisley painted this many times when he was living in Les Sablons. The Painting suggests it’s a summer afternoon due to the lack of shadows and warm, intense colors used in it.
The canvas is divided into four planes, the river, the beach, the grass, and the sky. He has painted the grass with diagonal curving brushstrokes that flow into the river, and then, he used short horizontal brushstrokes. He has used a cream color to divide the beach sand from the river along horizontal lines.
Sisley was mostly a landscape painter. His work is differentiated from his colleagues because of their use of soft, harmonious values.
Some of his early work is inspired by the delicate and restricted palette and style of Camille Corot. The silvery tonalities used in paintings by Corot’s reflected in some of Sisley’s artwork.
His snowscapes were particularly liked. Most of his famous and spontaneous artwork was executed between 1872 and 1880 in different neighborhoods of Paris, such as Bougival, Sevres, Meudon, Maryl, and Louveciennes.
Sisley painted his landscapes using the impressionist art style. He used simple forms, a colorful palette, and a broken color. His work resembles that of Monet, but his use of color was much more conservative. It has been suggested that in some cases, his use of color was a bit too restrained.
Despite being a popular impressionist artist, Alfred Sisley received little to no success and recognition while he was alive. To this day, he is understudied in comparison to his contemporaries.
The reason for his lack of scholarly consideration is his national identity that was fractured. He retained his English citizenship, and upon applying for French citizenship, he was declined twice.
Despite being rejected, he became the founding member of French Impressionism and carried out the movement’s original school of thought throughout his career.
Sisley’s early work was a link between the Barbizon school and the modern impressionism. Even though he was not involved in the post-impressionist movement, his use of texture and color was deemed innovative and evoked an emotional response.
Perhaps the greatest quality of Impressionist art is its ability to accentuate the effects of the passage of time. You cannot help but marvel at the great art pieces of many accomplished artists who managed to capture decades-long of nostalgia in a fleeting moment.
“It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.”
Impressionism is mostly associated with Monet’s landscapes, Van Gogh’s starry sky, and Degas’s sculptures of dancers. What most of us overlook is the less iconic but incredibly moving art of Camille Pissaro.
Let’s dedicate this reading piece to the great Danish-French artist and the father of Impressionism, Camille Pissarro.
Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro was born on a small Caribbean island of St. Thomas in Charlotte-Amalie on 10th July, 1830. At the young age of 12, he was sent away to a boarding school in Paris for five years.
During his early life in Paris, he would visit museums frequently and this is how he was first introduced to the French masters.
Upon his return to St. Thomas, he joined his father’s business to make a living. Soon he became a fast friend of the Danish artist Fritz Melbye who would often encourage him to give more time to his art. In 1852, the pair left the island and moved to Caracas, Venezuela for a few years.
Two years later, Pissarro returned to Paris with his family’s support to gain formal training in art. He came across the artwork of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot at the World fair in Paris.
Touched by his work, he started to study art under him, Gustave Courbet and Charles-Francois Daubigny. You can still find hints of their valuable influence in his early art pieces.
Pissaro was an ardent learner of art and he would acquire any art knowledge that the world had to offer. He did not give up formal art education at any point. In fact, he would visit Académie Suisse, an art school started by Charles Suisse frequently.
It was during this time that he met many peers who later went on to become great artists. His circle included Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Armand Guillaumin. They shared the same artistic vision of impressionism that helped them inspire each other.
In 1871, Pissarro married his lover, Julie Valley, who later became the mother of his eight children. The family had to leave Paris for London in 1870 due to the Franco-Prussian War.
He lived there for a few years and created some of his greatest works that depict the growth of urban life in villages around London. Upon his return home after the war, he found most of his early work had been destroyed.
In 1873, Pissarro helped found a collective Société anonyme des artistes, which allowed public exhibition of artists who were rejected by the Salon for their innovative ideas and techniques in art.
The first exhibition, in 1874, stands as a defining moment in the history of Impressionism that helped the movement grow.
During the later years of his life, Pissarro was taken over by an interest in printmaking medium and hence joined the Society Painter-Printmakers in 1889. He went on to work for increasing the validity of print and later had some of his prints published in L’Estampe originale.
Types of Work
Camille Pissarro, commonly known as the “Father of Impressionism,” contributed a variety of art work to the movement.
He would paint landscapes around Pontoise and Montmartre as well as the rural and urban life of France. Most of this type of his work is a reflection of his empathy for peasants and laborers and of his revolutionary mindset in politics.
Despite his close terms with significant artists like Degas, Gauguin etc., it seems his influence on fellow Impressionists still goes unappreciated.
He exhibited his work at all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions. If one would say that Monet was the most prolific artist of the Impressionist movement, then Pissarro was the most important developer of the technique.
However, Pissaro did not limit his work to just that. He went on to experiment with his Neo-Impressionist ideas from 1885 to 1890.
He further categorized Impressionism personally into romantic Impressionism and scientific Impressionism.
This is around the time when he started experimenting Pointillism, which he referred to as scientific Impressionism. During the twilight of his art life, he returned to the original Impressionism techniques.
Around 1890, Pissarro believed that he had at last achieved the unity in painting that he had sought all his life. He wrote about this accomplishment to his niece, Esther Isaacson:
“I began to understand my sensations and to know what it was that I wanted to do when I was about 40 years old [in the 1870s]—but vaguely. At fifty, that is in 1880, I formulated the idea of unity, without being able to render it. At sixty, I am beginning to see the possibility of rendering it.”
The great artist for the first time in his life achieved what could be regarded as financial stability when his art dealer, Durand-Ruel, held a large exhibition of his life-long work in 1892.
Some of his most famous works include:
Subject Matter of Pissarro’s Work
The dominant subject matter of his greatest works is rural settings in different effects of light. Like his fellow Impressionists, Pissarro wanted to capture and recreate the stunning effects of light and color on different objects. He depicted different types of human perception of landscapes with the change in light.
The most common subject matter of his work was what came from daily sights, like a hillside washed in sunlight, a street brimming with traffic, or a neighborhood covered in snow.
The later works of Pissarro’s life seem to be more freely painted than those that come from his Neo-Impressionist years.
In these works, he pursued the series technique, where he would paint a series of paintings of the same scene to depict the changing effects of light and weather.
Around the final years of his life, Camille Pissarro had started to gain significant recognition and he was being hailed as the Father of Impressionism.
He might not be the most prolific figure of the movement but his contribution in developing the style and technique makes him one of the key artists of Impressionism.
He passed away in Paris in 1903, leaving behind a lasting legacy that was carried on by his son, Lucien Pissarro, a renowned painter and printmaker.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the most significant artists of the Impressionist movement. Despite the physical difficulties that his deteriorating health imposed, he produced a large body of artwork throughout his life.
Read on to learn more about one of the pioneers of Impressionism and a life touched so stunningly by art and beauty!
If there is anything that can add more color and soul to artwork, it is beauty and joy. And what better way is there to turn both into eternal bliss by capturing it on a canvas!
Mediterranean landscapes, portraits, bathing nudes and young women embroidering or playing the guitar – every work of Auguste Renoir is a depiction of beauty and happiness.
The French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, France to a family of artisans. His father, a tailor by profession, moved with his seven children and wife to Paris in 1845.
Renoir showed a natural talent of painting at a very young age. Much to his benefit, his parents took little time in acknowledging their son’s gift. Hence, they apprenticed him to work in a porcelain factory at the age of 13.
This early era of his lifetime can be marked as a beginning of a life-long journey of painting.
Renoir learned to decorate plates with bouquets of flowers at the factory. Soon, he was also decorating fans and cloth panels for missionaries to hang on the walls of churches.
The immense joy that Renoir found in painting encouraged him to pursue his learning in the field of art.
In 1862, after saving some money, he started taking evening courses in drawing and anatomy at the École des Beaux-Arts. He also started taking painting lessons from Charles Gleyre at his studio.
Renoir did not agree much with the academic style of his teacher, but he decided to continue learning the elementary skills that he needed to become a professional painter.
At his time at the studio, Renoir bonded with three other students, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet and Frédéric Bazille.
All four students shared a dream of an art that would surpass the limitations of traditional art. They believed in creating art that should be much closer to life without the need to tell a story.
Renoir and his friends would spend a significant amount of time in the scenic forest of Fontainebleau. It became their favorite spot to indulge in plein air painting.
During the summer of 1869, Renoir and Monet would paint at La Grenouillère, a lakeside boating resort. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that La Grenouillere can be regarded as the birthplace of Impressionism.
During these two months, both the artists began to use broad brushstrokes to capture the natural movement of water and the beautiful effects of light.
In 1871, after returning from his military service during the war, Renoir’s painting career began to go downhill. Due to the unfinished quality of his newer techniques, his work was more rejected by the Salon than accepted.
Unlike his colleagues, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, he continued to submit his work to the Salon until 1873. Later in 1881, Renoir wrote to his dealer, Durand-Ruel:
“In Paris, there are barely fifteen collectors capable of liking a painter without the backing of the Salon. And there are another eighty thousand who won’t buy so much as a postcard unless the painter exhibits there.”
After 1873, when Impressionists’ works were largely rejected by the Salon, Renoir with his fellow impressionists, began to plan an independent exhibition.
The first exhibition was held in April, 1874 where Renoir sold a few works. What was more significant of this exhibition for Renoir was that he met the the collector Victor Chocquet there.
The portrait that he painted of him then brought the much needed financial support during this time. After this, he gained more financial independence through portrait commissions.
This success made him grow weary of the ideology of spontaneity in Impressionism. By the early 1880s, he seemed to have parted ways with Impressionism.
Consequently, Renoir adopted a more unique style in the last stage of his career. While Monet and Edgar Degas brought abstraction into their artwork, Renoir continued to have a more solid and sculptural approach in his work.
Types of Work
Auguste Renoir was one of the most prolific artists of his time, whose work has been frequently reproduced throughout the history of art.
Most of Renoir’s work is unique for their vibrant light and saturated colors. It mostly focuses on people in intimate and candid behavior. During the period of his early maturity, he produced impressionist paintings for the most part.
It was the works by Raphael and other Renaissance masters that he saw on his tour to Italy that convinced him he had deviated from his real path. During the next couple of years, he adopted a more solid style with defined outlines in an attempt to return to classicism.
Some of his most famous works include:
Subject Matter of Renoir’s Work
The subject matter of Renoir’s most famous paintings broadly comprises of landscapes, family scenes and portraits of public places, like The Luncheon of the Boating Party.
The first thing to notice about his subjects is that they are always cheerful and care-free. It seems he took pleasure in painting portraits that were a depiction of life, joy and realism. Female nudity was also a primary subject of his paintings.
Most of his work is also Impressionist in nature with broken brushstrokes and vibrant colors to capture the effects of light and movement of his subjects.
Even when he painted en plein air, he emphasized greatly on human subjects that stand out from his fellow Impressionists’ works.
Final Years and Death
Somewhere around 1892, Pierre-Aguste Renoir fell prey to rheumatoid arthritis. Despite his failing health, he continued to produce great art pieces throughout his life.
In the year 1907, he retired to the warmer climate of “Les Collettes,” a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer, close to the Mediterranean coast.
Even when arthritis left him wheelchair-bound and he started developing deformities in his hands, he adapted his painting techniques accordingly. He would have his brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers.
He would also create sculptures by instructing an assistant. He would use moving canvas to make up for his limited joint mobility. Needless to say, even when it seemed impossible, he refused to let any hindrance come in his way for his love of art.
Only on December 3, 1919, death became his final obstruction that parted the world from the masterpieces of his exceptional brushstrokes.
The most famous Italian artists are mostly household names from the renaissance period however their are a few stand out artists from other periods who’s work should not be ignored.
Our list of famous Italian painters and artists includes some of the most famous names with the addition of others of note.
Leonardo da Vinci, born in Tuscany, Italy in 1452, was a man fascinated by everything from drawing and sculpture to architecture and engineering. While he is now lauded as a pioneer in many different scientific studies, he was renowned as a painter during his lifetime.
His knowledge of human anatomy and expression lent him great skill in his paintings which were often the subject of his artistic works exemplified best in Mona Lisa, a painting that was actually left unfinished yet has become the most famous painting in the world.
As a child, da Vinci showed artistic talent and, at the age of fourteen, he began an apprenticeship under Andrea del Verrocchio and studied a broad range of subjects.
After beginning his own exhibit at Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke as a master artist, da Vinci began a long and successful career in painting. He continued painting until his left hand was paralyzed two years before he died in 1519.
Michelangelo Buonarotti was born in 1475 Florence, Italy. With an early interest in painting, he began an apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio at the age of thirteen but left after one year due to his aptitude and quick learning.
Before turning thirty, he had completed his two most famous sculptures, David and Pieta, and established himself as a masterful sculptor. A few years after completing David, he began painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, an endeavor that would last for four years.
Both he and da Vinci are widely known to be two of the most famous artists to have ever lived.
Towards the end of his life, Michelangelo took up architecture in order to avoid physical labor until he died in 1564.
Michelangelo devoted his artistic expressions to the human figure. He would dissect cadavers in his free time in order to study human anatomy with his most famous works, David and his fresco in the Sistine Chapel, displaying his masterful understanding of the human figure.
Raphael Sanzio was born in 1483 in Urbino, Italy the son of a painter. Learning from his father, he took up painting, and, after his father’s death when he was only eleven, he took over his father’s workshop where his success quickly surpassed his father’s.
At seventeen, he began an apprenticeship under Pietro Vannunci in Perugia, Italy where he developed his style of painting over four years. After leaving his apprenticeship, he created a series of Madonnas as an extrapolation to Leonardo de Vinci’s.
Raphael’s subject matter for paintings were usually religious subjects. His most notable works, the Madonnas, Transfiguration, and a portrait of Pope Julius II, reflected this focus.
Additionally, in 1514, the Pope hired him as chief architect where he designed rooms, buildings, and palaces. He continued to work as both a painter and architect until his untimely death in 1520 at just thirty-seven years old.
Giotto di Bondone is cited as one of the first renaissance artists and was a pivotal individual in the deviation from the byzantine style of art. Instead, he preferred to paint life in actuality, incorporating three dimensional forms and depicting accurate human emotions.
Most of Giotto’s life is surrounded in speculation due to lack of accurate records. He was born around 1266 in Florence, Italy.
As a child, he showed a shocking talent for painting with no formal training and was discovered by Giorgio Vasari who sent him to Cimabue, an Italian painter at the time, to apprentice under.
Very few pieces are certain to be painted by him, though many are rumored to be, with the Frescoes in Scrovegni Chapel, completed in 1305, being the most prominent of his works. He was said to have died in 1337 and buried in the Cathedral of Florence.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in Milan in 1571. At the age of thirteen, he began an apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano.
A few years after completing his apprenticeship, he had an altercation with an officer that resulted in him fleeing to Rome in order to avoid the charges, a pattern that would follow him throughout his life.
In Rome, he quickly rose to prominence until he was forced to flee again after killing a man, traveling to Naples, Malta, and Sicily each time for similar reasons. Eventually, he died in 1610 due to complications from a wound he received in another altercation.
Despite his combative personality, Caravaggio’s paintings were largely lauded and he was always commissioned for work at each place he fled to.
His unique style was known for its realism and use of drastic contrast which would later influence the style of baroque painting.
Amedeo Modigliani was an underrated Italian Jewish painter and sculptor, achieving very little success during his life. With his art usually focused on portraits and nudes, his pieces’ defining features are dramatic elongations of the face, necks and figures.
Born in 1884 Livorno, Italy, Modigliani claimed to be a painter from an early age, even before receiving formal training. After promising to take him after he recovered from typhoid, Modigliani’s mother took him to Florence where she ended up enrolling him with the best painting master in Lavorno: Guglielmo Micheli.
After contracting tuberculosis, he left this apprenticeship and moved to Paris. There, he abandoned his gentleman-like appearance in favor of an impoverished lifestyle, possibly due to his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Despite this, he continued to create sculptures and paintings at a startling pace until he succumbed to a recurrence of tuberculosis, dying destitute and alone in 1920.
Giorgio Morandi was an Italian painter and print-maker that focused on still-life’s. Most of his still-life’s depicted very simple subjects, such as bottles and vases, with an emphasis on subtlety, establishing himself as a leading individual in minimalism.
Born in 1890 Bologna, Italy, Morandi entered the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna when he was seventeen years old. There, he taught himself how to sketch from books on Rembrandt.
Throughout his life, his artistic style slowly became distilled down to subtle gradations of tone and hue with the compositional elements becoming more reduced.
In 1929 he received his first of many awards for an illustration he did titled II Sole a Picco. Eventually Morandi died of lung cancer in 1964, leaving behind a legacy that is one of the few of his time to escape the tarnish of Fascism.
Titian, born in 1488 as Tiziano Vicelli, was known as the greatest painter of his time. Though the subjects of his paintings varied from religious and mythological scenes in his early years to portraits towards the end of his life, he is most noted for his vivid and luminous color usage.
Along with Giorgione, he is credited as the founder of the Venetian school of Italian renaissance painting.
Along with his brother, Titian was sent at the age of ten years old to Venice in order to apprentice a painter. Eventually he apprenticed Giovani Bellini who was known as the greatest painter of the time.
Showing incredible skill as an apprentice, he gained success early on and enjoyed a long and successful career, succeeding Bellini as the master of Venetian painting after his master’s death until his own death in 1576 due to the bubonic plague.
Born in 1445 Florence, Italy as Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, Sandro Botticelli was sent by his father to apprentice as a goldsmith.
After showing promise as an artist, he began an apprenticeship with Fra Filippo and was taught to paint frescoes. After the apprenticeship, he was commissioned by churches until he received patronage from some of Florence’s leading families, including Medici.
Having earned notoriety from an early age as an apprentice, he was eventually invited by the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel walls.
Unfortunately, the later years of his life, until he died in 1510, were plagued with poverty and isolation after the loss of Medici’s patronage.
Most of Botticelli’s paintings were of religious subjects. However, his most famous renaissance paintings, Primavera and The Birth of Venus, focus on mythological subjects and are some of the most famous paintings in the world.
Giorgione Barbarelli da Castelfranco, known as Giorgione, was born in the Republic of Venice in 1477.
During his youth, he apprenticed under Giovanni Bellini in Venice whom Titian was also studying under at the time. After his apprenticeship, Giorgione was recognized early on and quickly rose in prominence as a master.
Despite a rapidly successful career, Giorgione’s life was cut short after he contracted the bubonic plague and died somewhere in his early thirties.
Unfortunately, only six pieces of his remain today, leaving much of his body of work up to speculation and rumors.
One notable characteristic of his style was that some of his painted pictures told no story at all. He is also credited as being the first to have the stark intensity of color that is at the core within the Venetian school of art.
The most famous renaissance artists are responsible for some of the greatest works of art ever produced.
The renaissance spanned a 300 year period which revolutionized art, medicine and architecture.
The introduction of linear perspective and the rejection of symbolism to new forms of expression and humanism changed the art world forever.
Our list of famous renaissance artists below covers both early renaissance period and the high renaissance.
Leonardo da Vinci was born out of wedlock in a farmhouse in 1452 Tuscany, Italy. With a short time in formal education, da Vinci displayed great artistic skill.
By the time he was twelve, he started an apprenticeship where he learned many different subjects from metalworking to sculpting.
Da Vinci’s unique talent was in depicting human expressions which gave him great notoriety from an early age. In 1478 he began receiving independent commissions but abandoned them after offering his services to the Duke of Milan where he painted many works such as The Last Supper.
After the Duke was overthrown, da Vinci fled to Venice and drew maps for the military, but eventually returned to Florence where he began working on Mona Lisa which would become the most famous artworks in the word.
He continued his artistic ventures into his later years where he turned to more scientific endeavors until his death in 1519.
While he is known to be an artistic genius in painting, architecture, and poetry, Michelangelo Buonarotti thought of himself as a sculptor, dabbling in other art forms but always maintaining sculpting as a constant throughout his life.
Much of Michelangelo’s artistic subjects focused on humans and religion. The Sistine Chapel, his Madonna sculptures, and David are all religious works that he commissioned.
Even as a child, he showed prodigious artistic talent during his apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio, and, at just fourteen, Ghirlandaio began paying Michelangelo as an artist.
After working for Lorenzo de’ Medici, ruler of Florence, in the Humanist Academy, he left Florence and completed Pieta. Shortly after returning to Florence, he completed David as well, solidifying himself as a prominent sculptor despite his age.
In 1508, Michelangelo was invited to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, another of his crowning achievements which took four years to complete.
Raphael Sanzio was a prolific painter and architect. Despite a mysterious and sudden death at the age of thirty-seven, he left behind a vast body of work, most likely due to the unusually large workshop that he operated where he supervised fifty pupils.
Most of this work was religious in subject and commissioned by the pope and catholic church.
The son of a painter, Raphael took over his father’s workshop after his death at the age of just eleven. After having great success with the workshop, Raphael pursued an apprenticeship with Pietro Vannunci for four years until he returned to Florence where he painted his famous series of Madonnas.
Eventually he moved to Rome where he was hired by the Pope as chief architect to build palaces for the church. Raphael continued to work until his death, leaving some of his works such as The Transfiguration unfinished.
Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, or Donatello, was born in 1386 Florence, Italy. After receiving training from a goldsmith’s workshop, he began an apprenticeship with Lorenzo Ghiberti for metalwork and sculpture. Later, Ghiberti and Donatello were commissioned to create bronze doors for the Florence Cathedral.
In 1443 he was commissioned to create an equestrian monument in Padua, a task that had not been undertaken since ancient times. This led to further monuments in the following centuries throughout Europe.
He continued to sculpt until his death at seventy-nine years old in 1466, leaving behind an unfinished piece completed by one of his pupils.
Donatello was an innovative sculptor for his time. His most famous piece, David, was the first known free-standing statue since antiquity.
Using linear perspective in the Gothic style, he created lifelike and highly emotional sculptures that displayed accurate depictions of sorrow and suffering.
Albrecht Dürer was a renaissance painter, print-maker, and theorist born in Nuremberg within the Holy Roman Empire in 1471. While his father wanted him to become a goldsmith, Dürer’s aptitude for drawing convinced him to pursue the arts.
At the age of fifteen, he began an apprenticeship with Michael Wolgemut, whose workshop created woodcut illustrations. Over the years, Dürer improved the wood-prints to a level of artistic sophistication that earned him a reputation in his twenties and revolutionized what was conceived as possible with wood printing.
Much of the pieces Dürer completed were focused on religious subjects, although he also created many portraits. While he is mostly known for wood printing, he was also a respected watercolor landscape artist.
His artistic expression did not stop at visual mediums, however. He also wrote four books on the theory of human proportion that were published after he died in 1528.
Sandro Botticelli, born in 1445 Florence, was one of the most esteemed Italian painters of his time. Many of his pieces were focused on religious subjects, though some of his most famous paintings are on mythological scenes.
After apprenticing a goldsmith as a child, Botticelli began an apprenticeship with Fra Filippo where he learned to paint frescoes. As an adult, he began painting for churches, and, due to Filippo’s contacts, he had the patronage of Florence’s leading families.
Having earned a high reputation at the time, he was invited by the pope to paint frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel which was the only time he worked outside Florence.
After the fall of Medici, one of Botticelli’s primary patrons, in his later years, Botticelli had a swift decline where he fell into isolation and mental anguish until his death in 1510.
Tiziano Vicelli, also known as Titian, was the founder of the Venetian school of renaissance painting. Born around 1488, Titian was sent with his brother to Venice at around ten years old to find and apprentice a painter. After a stint with another painter, he apprenticed the greatest painter of the time: Giovani Bellini.
With his master, Titian was commissioned early on by the state to paint frescoes, beginning his professional painting career.
After Bellini’s death, he was considered the master of Venetian painting for sixty years. He continued to paint until he died from the bubonic plague in 1576.
The subject of Titian’s paintings changed throughout his life, from religious and mythological scenes to portraits towards the end of his life. Though the subjects varied, he always maintained a unique use of vibrant colors in his paintings as exemplified in Danae, a painting in his “poesie” series.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a talented and troubled renaissance painter. Born in 1571 Milan, he began an apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano at thirteen years old. Shortly after his apprenticeship, he fled to Rome to avoid the aftermath of a fight with an officer.
There, he gained notoriety for his unique style of painting. Caravaggio was known for his realism and use of light and dark contrast, a technique that would influence baroque painting. Not wanting to hide the flaws of the individual, his paintings were sometimes criticized as vulgar.
After killing a man, Caravaggio fled to Naples in 1606 where, due to his combative nature, he again had to flee to Malta, Sicily, and then back to Naples.
At all of the places he went, he was commissioned and always received great praise. Eventually he died of sepsis in 1610 from a wound he received while fighting.
Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, was born in 1518 Venice to the son of a dyer, from which he derived his name. His only apprenticeship was with Titian which only lasted a few days before he was kicked out due to unknown reasons.
From then on, he studied on his own using Michelangelo’s drawing and Titian’s color as inspiration. Eventually Tintoretto rose to prominence in the 1540’s and was often commissioned by the church to do religious scenes for much of his work.
After Titian’s death, he became one of the most famous painters in Venice until his own death in 1594 due to a sudden illness.
Tintoretto employed narrative drama and a staunch use of perspective in his paintings. His most notable work, Paradise, stood seventy-four by thirty feet wide and was the largest canvas painting to ever be completed.
Paolo Veronese, also known as Paolo Caliari, was born in 1528 Verona from which he took his name. He studied under two masters, apprenticing Antonio Badile in 1541 and Giovanni Caroto in 1544.
He rose in prominence after working on frescoes for the Villa Soranzo and then moved to Venice in 1553 after being commissioned by the state.
During his life, he ran a large workshop that was primarily comprised of family members and was carried on by them after his death in 1588.
Veronese often completed large religious and mythological history paintings for his patrons and was particularly fond of feast scenes. His work is characterized by dramatic and colorful styling despite being trained in mannerism.
His work has earned him, according to modern critics, a spot alongside Titian and Tintoretto as one of the trio that dominated Venetian painting in the Cinquecento.
Manet vs Monet two artists that are constantly mistaken for each other and is it any wonder with such similar names?
French art is steeped in history and there are numerous artists who have made their marks over the years. Two of the most well-known artists are Claude Monet and Edouard Manet.
While their names are instantly recognizable among anyone who is remotely familiar with art, their names are also easy to confuse.
A simple swapping of the vowels in the name can reduce two of the most famous artists into a confusing mess.
For these reasons, it is important for everyone to note some of the most important differences when comparing Edouard Manet versus Claude Monet so that each artist is well-respected in his own right.
Many people confuse Edouard Manet and Claude Monet because their names are so similar; however, there are a few ways to tell their works apart in addition to a single vowel in the last name.
Edouard Manet was both an impressionist and a realist. In contrast, Claude Monet was strictly an impressionist. As a result, there are several ways that people can tell their works apart. Some of the most prominent ways include:
These are just a few of the many ways that people can tell apart the works of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet. Both artists were, and still are, prolific in their own right; however, in order to truly appreciate everything these two artists bring to the table, it is important to be able to tell their works apart.
First, let’s take a closer look at Edouard Manet. Edouard Manet is a French artist who was born in 1832 and died in 1883. In the eyes of many, he is the father of modern art.
This is because he was able to break dramatically from strong academic traditions. He was known for breaking from conventional painting categories to create real-world art.
Prior to Edouard Manet, many of the world’s best paintings could fit into either still-life work, portraits, landscape pieces, of historical pieces.
In this manner, Edouard Manet was not as interested in minute details and wanted to focus on his own inherent materials and visual qualities that came along with his work.
Even though he died at age 51 and did not produce a massive number of paintings, he is one of the most famous artists of all time. He is closely associated with some of the biggest art movements of all time including abstraction and Impressionism.
Many of the works of Edouard Manet are on display at the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Musee d’Orsay (Paris) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City).
Now, let’s take a closer look at Claude Monet. He is also French; however, was born slightly after his counterpart, Manet. Claude Monet was born in 1840 and was an impressionist. In many ways, he was inspired by the work of Manet.
Claude Monet is known as a master of color, able to capture it over and over again. He could paint the same subject repeatedly and come up with a completely different work every time.
His goal is to communicate every nuance of light as he saw it. Many of the most famous works of Claude Monet come from series that he painted in the last thirty years of his life. As a result, he is more prolific (in terms of his number of pieces) than Manet.
There are simply more works by Claude Monet than there are Manet pieces, so it is more likely for someone to run into a Monet at a museum somewhere.
Interestingly many often confuse Monet and Van Gogh even though their art is quite different.
The 19thcentury was a revolutionary time in the world of art. It started in the 19thcentury and was able to elevate many of the works of Edouard Manet to a new plane.
At that time, artists were trying to capture the fleeting moments that took place in the modern world (at that time). As a result, many artists took their works from the studio to dance centers, cafes, and nature in an effort to capture everything they could.
Impressionism has become a word that is synonymous with both of these famous French artists.
Now, when people talk about impressionism, those in the art community usually refer to Edouard Manet and Claude Monet differently.
Edouard Manet was a major influence on the impressionist movement. In many ways, some consider Edouard Manet to be the father of impressionism.
In this manner, Edouard Manet is usually referred to as someone who broke with tradition; however, the works of Edouard Manet are known for their tension.
They show many of the flavors of impressionism without adhering to what most people know as impressionism today.
For these reasons, Edouard Manet is often described as an impressionist artist and a realist.
In contrast, Monet came along several years later. Much of his work is what people consider to be impressionist in the modern use of the term.
Many of the paintings of Claude Monet exhibited some of the marquee styles of impressionism. These included open composition, a unique depiction of light, and visible brush strokes.
Often, Claude Monet would use his art to accentuate the passage of time, turning ordinary subject matter into something different. These are some of the hallmarks of impressionism paintings. The term actually comes from a Monet work that is titled “Impression, Sunrise.”
Impressionism is one of the most famous movements in the world of art. Both of these artists played a major role. Some of the other famous impressionist artists include Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre Renoir.
Many of these artists actually exhibited their works together. In contrast, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet actually never exhibited their artwork in the same place.
It is important for everyone to note some of the most famous works of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet. They include:
Without a doubt, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet are some of the most famous artists of all time. Their works are on display all over the world.
While their names are similar, they did use very different painting styles. It is important for everyone to be able to tell these two famous artists apart in order to appreciate everything they accomplished during their careers. Their work continues to influence artists to this day.
The discussion of Monet vs Van Gogh often comes up and for a lot of people the difference between the two artists is not always apparent.
Van Gogh can be considered a post-impressionist artists whereas Monet is one of the founding members of the impressionism movement.
Both artists made extensive use of light and it’s effects on the color of their subject matter and the spaces and objects contained within.
Claude Monet was known for more realistic use of color tone in his works while Vincent Van Gogh is better known for far more bold and striking color choices.
This in essence is one of the marked differences between the impressionist and post-impressionists.
Impressionism uses color to represent an impression of a landscape and the effects of light on it, whereas the post-impressionists used color to convey emotion.
The main differences between Monet vs Van Gogh is that Monet is strictly an impressionist, Van Gogh however is a post-impressionist artist.
Van Gogh’s early style of painting was was based on a more muted Dutch inspired palette and was in striking contrast to his later works where bold colors were used as a expression of emotion.
Claude Monet’s style is resolutely focused on how light affects and interacts on landscapes and the objects contained in them with large masses of color and mostly devoid of any straight lines of the use of pure black pigment.
Throughout his career Monet’s artworks would continue to focus on light and color and almost all of his works are in that hazy impressionist style that his name is so strongly connected to.
Vincent Van Gogh was mostly unaware of impressionism before he spent a couple of years in Paris in and around 1886.
And his earlier work was more realistic in nature, the impressionists rejection of the status quo had a marked affect on Van Gogh and his style changed immeasurably following his two year stink in Paris.
He would later reject pure impressionism and his work evolved into Post-Impressionism were the aim was not to capture the effects of light but to use color as a vehicle to express emotion.
He also painted a considerable amount of portraits and self portraits whereas Monet mostly focused on landscapes and en plein air painting.
In terms of their career Van Gogh started to paint when he was roughly 21 years old while Monet had been painting from a very early age.
Monet attained considerable fame during his life and had considerable financial security later in life which allowed him to purchase the house and land that would later become the focus of his work with such pieces as The Artist’s Garden at Giverny and Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge.
Van Gogh however only achieved recognition after his death and spent most of his life penniless and even spent considerable time in an asylum where he would paint some of his most famous works of art.
Although their art does differ greatly there are still some similarities between the work of Monet and Van Gogh.
Both artists are known for the landscape paintings with Van Gogh also of great note for his portraits.
They both based a large portion of their techniques on the effects of light on landscapes.
Given that Van Gogh was greatly influenced by the Impressionist artists during his time in Paris there will always be echoes of their style in his work.
A lack of straight lines and traditional linear perspective is common to both artists as too are very definite brush strokes that give an added depth to the paint on the canvas.
Monet work is largely credited with the start of the Impressionist movement whereas Van Gogh is a post-impressionism artist.
However, technically it is Manet that is the first true impressionist artist, it is Monet’s painting Impression Sunrise that gave the movement it’s name.
You can see how Manet compares to Monet in our other article Manet vs Monet for a more detailed look at both artists.
Impressionism is perhaps one of the most significant movements in modern art history. It was the birth of light in painting. Impressionism reached France around the middle of the nineteenth century and Claude Monet was one of the revolutionary pioneers of this movement.
A life overshadowed by depression, poverty and sickness brought forth some of the greatest masterpieces of Impressionism.
Claude’s work has inspired the lovers of art to move ahead of the subject matter and realize sensations of nature. They are mostly about capturing beauty in a fleeting moment!
Claude Monet, one of the leading figures in Impressionism, was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France. Monet’s father was a grocer at first, but he later took over the family’s shipping and grocery business.
Thus, the family had to move to Normandy coast when Monet was merely 5 years old. It was this time of Monet’s life that led him on a journey of revolutionary artwork.
He spent his childhood along the beaches where he would observe the rapidly changing weather of Normandy. It seems this is how he gained a new perception of nature and the effect of light on it.
Despite being considerably good at studies, Monet repelled the idea of being confined to a classroom. He preferred to be outside and drawing seemed to come naturally to him. He would sketch people, including his teachers, in his schoolbooks.
Monet’s mother supported his art skills while his father disapproved of them. With his mother’s death in 1857 and his father’s aversion to his work, Monet suffered a great deal in the pursuing years.
Claude Monet’s first breakthrough came in when he was 15 years old. He would make caricatures of many of the town’s residents that would be sold for a decent price.
Soon, Monet met a local landscape artist, Eugene Boudin, who aroused in him the interest of ‘plein air painting’ or outdoor painting. This interest later on became the dominating subject matter of Monet’s artwork.
In 1859, Monet moved to Paris and enrolled himself as a student at the Academie Suisse. Monet had to discontinue his informal training at Academie Suisse for his military service from 1861 to 1862.
His early discharge from service is known to be due to health reasons. So, after returning to Paris, he resumed studying art under Charles Gleyre.
Two of Monet’s paintings were accepted by the Salon in 1865, an annual art show in Paris. The next year, two more paintings were selected for the Salon.
One of these paintings was a landscape while the other one was a portrait of Camille, also called Woman in Green. Camille Doncieux was Monet’s beloved who came from a humble background.
Around the birth of their first child in 1867, Monet faced great hardships due to a financial crisis. With his father’s refusal to lend any help, Monet became increasingly dejected of his situation.
His hopelessness aggravated so much that it drove him over the edge, leading to him attempting to commit suicide in 1868 by drowning himself in the Seine River.
The following year, things started to get better when Louis-Joachim Guadibert became a patron of his artwork.
Monet and Camille married in 1870, but soon due to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, they had to move to England. Consequently, Paul Durand-Ruel became his first art dealer in England.
Upon his return to France in 1872, he met many great artists that left a considerable impression on his work. After Camille’s death, Monet remarried Alice in 1892.
Monet would often get frustrated with his circumstances and work. He is known to have destroyed various of his paintings. Some records suggest the number is as high as 500 works.
Due to his bouts of depression, Monet would burn, cut or kick his work in frequent outbursts.
In spite of these struggles Monet is responsible for some of the most revered impressionist paintings and artwork ever produced.
Types of Work
One of Monet’s works “Impression, Sunrise” was displayed in the society’s exhibition in 1874. It was a depiction of Le Havre’s harbor in morning fog. Critics of this new style of painting mocked such artists by calling them “Impressionists”. They went on to say that their work appeared more like sketches than complete paintings.
Although the remarks were intended to be disparaging, surprisingly the term sat so well to describe this form of art. Monet, like his fellow impressionist painters, seemed to distance himself from classical art.
The type of work that Monet produced came as a result of use of bold vibrant colors with short brushstrokes. Monet first exhibited his work with the Impressionists in 1874 and went on doing it until the 1880s.
Most of Monet’s work comprises of landscapes, structures and other scenes in different lights. He would depict several scenes and structures in dawn, noon, gray weather etc. He was immensely fascinated by the effects of light on things.
Some of the most famous pieces of artwork by Claude Monet are:
Subject Matter of Monet’s Work
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.”
― Claude Monet
As expressed by Monet himself, his work was more about the surrounding atmosphere than any subject in particular. We can find domestic scenes depicting his wife, son and garden in some of his works.
Yet the aim of Monet’s work was not to paint modern life. With his paintings, Monet wanted to implement his radical view of nature. So, it is safe to say that the dominating subject matter of Monet’s work was the light of an object in a painting.
Monet can be regarded as the quintessential impressionist, yet often people confuse him with another
Monet fell prey to different diseases in his lifetime, including cataracts, which almost left him blind in both eyes. He went through surgery in 1923 for the ailment. However, diseases were not the only misery that lay heavy on Monet’s spirits. He had to constantly power through depression all through his life.
Monet expressed this suffering to one of his friends by writing him the following words:
“Age and chagrin have worn me out. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear.”
At the age of 86, Claude Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926. Despite living a difficult life, Monet found an extraordinary way to create inspiration in his moments of despair.
He transformed the world of painting by blurring the line between reality and art. His vision opened doors to the world of imagination and creativity for the lovers of art.
Initially the famous impressionist artists in this list were strongly rejected by the art critics of the day.
Impressionism was a massive departure from the more traditional realistic works of the day.
More and more everyday scenes and people became their subject matter as opposed to the more conventional paintings and portraits of upper class patrons.
The style was exemplified by brighter colors and a very little black used by the artists, different changes in color and tone gave form and structure to individual objects rather than distinct lines.
Below you will find a list of the most famous impressionist artists and their lives.
Claude Monet, born in 1840 Paris, was an ambitious french painter and often regarded as one of the most important founders of impressionism. In fact, the term impressionism was coined from one of his most famous paintings Impression, Sunrise.
During his youth, he became locally known for his charcoal caricatures, but it wasn’t until Eugene Boudin became his mentor that he learned oil painting and outdoor techniques.
After traveling for many years throughout his childhood, Monet eventually returned to Paris. During this time, he met many fellow eventual impressionist painters such as Édouard Manet whom he befriended.
While in Paris, he was drafted for the military, but his aunt was able to get him released from the army with the condition that he complete a course at an art school. After many years of hardship and success, Monet died from lung cancer at 86, requesting a small and intimate funeral.
His most famous early work was The Woman in the Green Dress, painted after his wife, Camille Doncieux, whom he often used as a model.
Most of Monet’s famous paintings, however, focused on landscapes and seascapes, particularly of the French countryside.
He would paint the same scene many times over in order to capture the passing of time and the changes in light and color.
Among the impressionist he is considered to be the most famous painters of the style.
Édouard Manet was pivotal in the shift from realism to impressionism. While always revering realism, his controversial and bold impressionist works drew great criticism and admiration among artists of his time.
Born in 1832 to a wealthy family in Paris, he aspired to become an artist from an early age, and, with encouragement from his uncle, he was mentored by Thomas Couture.
To further educate himself, he traveled to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands which heavily impacted his style and artistic concept.
At first, Manet painted contemporary themes, but later moved on to historical and religious depictions.
His first painting that received recognition was The Spanish Singer. It was featured in the Paris exhibit known as The Salon where it was criticized as “slapdash”, but later his bold choices in subjects earned him greater controversies and notoriety.
His works like The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia depicted naked women and received heavy backlash for being immoral and vulgar by many of his conservative contemporaries.
Most of his later works were still-life’s and drew little criticism, although his last painting, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, depicts a scene in a nightclub of the same name and has stirred conversation for over one-hundred years.
Although Edgar Degas is now known as a French impressionist, he rejected the term and instead thought of himself as a realist.
Born in Paris in 1834 to a wealthy family, Degas was an ambitious artist from a young age. Although he suffered from failing eyesight all his life, he pursued a career in history painting with years of rigorous training.
By the time he was eighteen he had converted an entire room in his house into a personal studio. After years of historic works, he shifted his focus in his thirties to contemporary subjects where he earned great praise for his works.
Some of the most famous impressionist paintings that the general public would associate with impressionism would be Degas’s Ballerina series.
Much of his contemporary works depicted ballerinas and dance scenes, the most notable being The Dance Class and Musicians in the Orchestra, although he was also partial to horse racing and jockeys.
His paintings were particularly lauded for their depth of psychological complexity in portraying human isolation, a subject he had much experience in.
Degas believed a painter could not have a personal life and isolated himself from the outside world. Eventually his friends abandoned him and, due to his failing eyesight, spent the last years of his life wandering the streets practically blind.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841 to a poor family in Limoges, France but later moved to Paris near the Louvre. He embraced a brighter palette, focusing on intimate and candid subjects.
Aside from portraits, he often painted the female nude body, but, in his later years, turned to domestic and rural scenes.
As a teenager, Renoir started an apprenticeship to a porcelain painter while studying drawing at a free art school. In 1864, The Paris Salon first accepted his work La Esmerelda.
After another piece was accepted at The Salon, he had enough recognition to commission portraits for individuals in order to help support himself. Oftentimes, in order to remain financially stable, he would depend on family, friends, and patrons to help support him.
In 1870 Renoir was drafted into the army, but, thanks to him contracting dysentery, he never saw battle. After the war, he returned to Paris and continued painting, eventually gaining much notoriety for portraits he did.
Unfortunately, in his later years he developed rheumatism which disfigured his hands and made painting difficult for him. He continued to paint with a brush strapped to his fingers until his death in 1919.
Camille Pissarro was born on the island of St. Thomas in 1830. At the age of twelve, he was sent to boarding school near Paris where he was encouraged to draw and paint. When he returned, he worked at his father’s business, working on his art in his free time, always of nature scenes.
Later, he moved to Venezuela where he found inspiration from its landscapes and villages. Eventually he moved to Paris but only lasted a year before moving to the French countryside.
During the war, he fled to London, only to return and find many of his works destroyed by soldiers. Once back, he continued to paint, developing and abandoning neo-impressionism throughout his adulthood.
Pissarro found the only things worth painting were village life and landscapes. Instead of glorifying the scenes he painted, he preferred to objectively chronicle.
Towards the end of his life, Pissarro developed an eye infection that made him unable to paint outside unless it was warm. Instead, he continued to paint from hotel room windows that were high enough to see a broad view of the landscape out the window until he died in 1903.
Mary Cassatt was a life-long equal rights advocate, resenting the exclusion of women in the arts. Most of her work focused on the social and private lives of women, particularly of mothers with their children.
Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania in 1844 to a well-to-do family. She traveled extensively during her childhood, leading to her exposure to drawing while abroad.
At the age of fifteen, she enrolled at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and studied painting, to her father’s dismay. In her adult life, she moved to France and, due to females not yet welcome in most areas of artistic professions, she studied privately as a copyist.
Once the war in France started, Cassatt returned to the United States and lived with her family where her father refused to assist in her aspirations.
After the war, she returned to France and had one of her works accepted into The Paris Salon shortly after.
After some professional success, she experienced a slump in her career when she was then invited to join the Impressionists in their exhibit. It brought her much more success which she enjoyed for the remainder of her life.
Alfred Sisley was born to an affluent Breton family in Paris, France in 1839. After dropping out of business school in London, he pursued art school. There, he met Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir and would paint with them outside.
Due to the unwelcome novel style of his work, the paintings he did rarely sold and were not displayed for a long time in The Paris Salon. It wasn’t until 1868 that his first piece was accepted by The Salon, and he did not receive wide success or financial stability from it.
During the war in France, Sisley’s father’s business failed and his family lost all their money, requiring Sisley to depend on his artwork sales for sustenance.
Unfortunately, his paintings did not significantly rise in financial value until after his death and he experienced poverty until he died of throat cancer in 1899.
Throughout his life, Sisley was a strict adherent to painting his works outside. Almost exclusively he painted landscapes, more than any other impressionist painter, with the occasional deviation to figure painting.
This collections of famous impressionist artists and painters although not exhaustive covers the main protagonists in the movement.