Y6 Gallery Rebels 5 : The Impressionists and where are the female artists?

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Up to this point, artists had been praised for making the subjects of their paintings as life like as possible.

In the 1800's this changed and we enter the modern era of art:


In this modern era of art, artists paid less attention to making everything in their paintings look life like and perfect and paid more attention to the art processes and HOW they used the materials to create effects and show their emotions through their work.

The art scene changed forever and a lot of people were confused and at first many hated it!

Some other key discoveries at this time:

1840's - ready mixed paint could now be bought in resealable tubes, this meant artists could more easily go outside to paint. The effects of light and weather on a scene were now easier to capture.

1850's - photography had been invented and was now becoming popular.

This change to the art world began in France in the 1860's and a group of artists invented a new style of art called 'Impressionism'. Their new approach was to ignore the precise details in the subject of their work and capture the 'impression'. (Remember we talked about this in reading work - your impression of something is about the ideas and thoughts you have about it, it is less about the specific facts and details.)

Artists wanted to capture the impression of a scene and how the picture was painted became just as important as the subject matter. The art academies did not approve of this new style of art and refused to show the paintings in their galleries so the Impressionist artists organised their own exhibitions instead, real gallery REBELS!

The Tate have an excellent website for called Tate Kids with videos and activities all about art and artists.

Watch this video from the Tate Kids site, all about Impressionism.

Edouard Manet was among the first to paint in this style; this makes him one of the founders of modern art. He painted this portrait, 'Jeanne' in 1881.

Notice how less detailed it is. Look closely at the trees in the background and you can see the brush strokes from the artist. Manet wanted to give an 'impression' of this moment, not an exact representation.

By the late 1860's, a group of French impressionists would meet regularly in cafes in Paris to discuss their ideas and techniques. Often, they ended up painting the cafes too!

Here are some other French Impressionists that you should know about:

Claude Monet - one of the most famous of the Impressionist artists.

The Waterlily Pond

Look here for more about Monet

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: painted over 6000 works in his lifetime!

Ball at the Moulin de la Galette

Impressionism started in France, but spread to other countries too.

Vincent Van Gogh: An impressionist artist born in the Netherlands although spent time in France. (I love both of these and couldn't decide which to use, so you get 2 paintings from Van Gogh!)

Look here for more about Van Gogh.

Café Terrace at Night

Starry Night

What do you think of this less detailed, impressionistic style of art?

In the 1800's, many people found it to be shocking and terrible! What is your opinion?

Where are all the women?

Good question!

You may have noticed, that this journey through art history has focused mainly on male artists. Sadly, female artists through history lived in times and places where it was men who made the important decisions and thought their voices should be the ones heard the loudest. Women did not have the opportunities to train and improve their skills like the men, and when a female artist did produce something brilliant, their achievements were not celebrated in the same way as achievements by men. It was also thought to be inappropriate for a woman to be out and about alone painting, so this made it extra difficult for them. Ugh!

This new group of impressionist painters however, DID open the door to woman and included women amongst their top artists. Sadly they are still far less famous today than the men who painted alongside them.

Look up these important female impressionists to see more of their work.

Berthe Marisot : Follow this link to find out more about her.

Mary Cassatt

This little girl looks deep in thought, I wonder what she is thinking?

Marie Bracquemond

What do you think the feeling is in this picture? He seems to be looking at her, but she is looking away. I wonder why?

Eva Gonzalez

Do you think she poorly? Tired? Quarantined?!

Try looking up these other well known Impressionist artists:

Edgar Degas Look here for more about Degas

Alfred Sisley

Camile Pissarro

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