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What is Impressionism?

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Depicting spontaneous everyday scenes in more loosely painted styles than were traditional at the time, Impressionism was invented by a group of Parisian artists who were interested in conveying the feeling of a moment—”an ‘impression’ of what the person, light, atmosphere, object or landscape looked like to them.” They often painted fleeting outdoor moments or captured casual moments at home, depicting modern life in the late 1800s.

“Before impressionism, landscapes in art were often imaginary, perfect landscapes painted in the studio. The impressionists changed all that.”

The Tate Kids video above describes the art style and highlights a few of its artists, including Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot. Other Impressionist artists to explore include Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and Edgar Degas.

impressionist paintings
Plus, some advice about how to paint an impressionist landscape from Pissarro:

“Work at the same time on sky, water, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis…Don’t be afraid of putting on colour…Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression.”

painting en plein air
Watch more art videos from the Tate, including:
• What is Cubism?
• How did Yinka Shonibare become an artist?
• How did Cedric Morris become an artist?
• White and Yellow by Marlow Moss, a Tate audio description
• Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room

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