French Impressionist Painting: An Overview Of This Era

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Leighton Fine Art celebrates the brilliance of French Impressionist painters with a curated collection that captures the movement’s essence. Immerse yourself in the luminosity and emotion of their masterpieces, meticulously selected to embody the spirit of Impressionism. Explore the timeless allure of French Impressionism at Leighton Fine Art.

Impressionism began with a collection of artists from Paris who rose to popularity through independent shows from 1870 to 1880.

About The Movement:

The early Impressionists were radicals in their day, breaking the boundaries of academic painting. They built their paintings with freely brushed colors that took precedence over lines and shapes, as did painters like J. M. W. Turner and Eugène Delacroix.

They also created realistic pictures of everyday life, typically outside. Previously, still lifes, portraits, and landscapes were typically painted in a studio. By creating paintings outdoors or in fresh air, the Impressionists discovered they could depict sunshine’s fleeting effects.

They utilized quick “damaged” brushstrokes of mixed and pure unmixed color—not blended evenly or darkened, as was customary—to generate an illusion of intense color vibration.

The French Impressionist painters devised new techniques that were unique to the style. It is an art of spontaneity and movement, of frank postures and compositions, of playing with light represented in a vibrant and diverse color, encompassing what its followers felt was an alternative method of seeing.

Why Are Impressionist Paintings Different?

Various distinguishable techniques and working patterns contributed to the French Impressionist painters‘ original style. Although these techniques had been employed previously by artists such as Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals, John Constable, Peter Paul Rubens, and J. M. W. Turner, the Impressionists were the first to apply them all together and with such consistency. Among these methods are:

  • Short, thick paint strokes capture the core of the topic rather than the minutiae. Impasto is a technique used to apply paint.
  • Colors are applied parallel to one another with as little blending as possible, using the idea of synchronous contrasting to make the color look more brilliant to the spectator.
  • Greys and dark colors are created by blending complementary colors. Black paint is not used in pure impressionism.
  • Wet paint is applied to wet painting without waiting for subsequent applications to dry, resulting in softer edges and color intermingling.
  • French Impressionist painters did not use the opacity of thin paint coatings, which earlier painters painstakingly managed to achieve effects. The surface of an impressionist painting is often opaque.
  • The paint is used on a white or light-colored background. Previously, painters frequently utilized dark grey or brightly colored backgrounds.
  • The use of light from the outdoors is highlighted. Color reflections from item to object are studied carefully. Painters frequently worked late at night to create effects de soir—the gloomy appearance of twilight or dusk.


The evolution of the style was aided by new technology. French Impressionist painters benefited from the mid-century arrival of premixed colors in tin tubes, which allowed painters to work more naturally, both outside and inside.


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