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French Impressionist Painters

Learn more about the artists that led the Impressionism Movement.

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Le Repos, by Edouard Manet, an Impressionist painter

Edouard Manet (French, 1832-1883). Le Repos, ca. 1870-71. Oil on canvas. 59 1/8 x 44 7/8 in. (150.2 x 114 cm). Bequest of Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Gerry. 59.027.

© Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. Photograph provided by Art.com.

Edouard Manet painted this picture above, featuring sitter Berthe Morisot. These two were dear friends (later to become in-laws), both were artists and, between them, they knew every other working artist who would become known as a French Impressionist painter. In the case of Manet and Morisot, Impressionism was truly a family affair. The rest of the Impressionists? Ah! If they weren't always legally related, it still felt like a family affair to this closely-knit, mostly supportive group -- who were never above quarreling amongst themselves.

These were the trend setters of Impressionism, the initial band of artists who met, formulated their working plans, exhibited and (mostly) lived in Paris during the mid- to late 19th Century. It was they who suffered the initial critical slings and arrows, they who have influenced every generation of artists since, and they who, in retrospect, changed forever how we think about, view and create art.

The French Impressionist Painters * Pauls Cézanne and Gauguin are now firmly planted in the Post-Impressionist category. Both did, however, work and exhibit with the Impressionists in the early stages of their artistic careers.

** Edouard Manet, huge artistic influence of and friend to most of the Impressionists listed here, was not himself an Impressionist. He declined to be labeled as such and did not exhibit with the others. Because the Impressionists borrowed from his style so closely, however, and because we dearly love to find neat slots for everyone and everything art historic, he is usually included as having been among their number.

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