Impressionism Timeline  
  Impressionism * Neo-Impressionism * Post-Impressionism  

  1870 1880 1890
  1871 1881 1891
  1872 1882 1892
1863 1873 1883 1893
1864 1874 1884 1894
1865 1875 1885 1895
1866 1876 1886 1896
1867 1877 1887 1897
1868 1878 1888 1898
1869 1879 1889 1899
Impressionism Timeline
Impressionism * Neo-Impressionism * Post-Impressionism
Camille Pissarro
Edouard Manet (1832-83) Edgar Degas (1834-1917) Alfred Sisley (1839-99)

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
Claude Monet (1840-1826) Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Frederic Bazille (1841-70)

Armand Guillaumin

Berthe Morisot (1841-95)

Federico Zandomeneghi (1841-1917)

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Giuseppe de Nittis
Max Liebermann
Gustave Caillebotte (1848-94) Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909) Vincent van Gogh
Charles Angrand
Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910)

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Childe Hassam 

Georges Seurat (1859-91)
Louis Anquetin
(1861- 1932)
Theo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) Paul Signac (1863-1935) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Emile Bernard (1868-1941)
The Birth of Impressionism
Exhibitors at the first Impressionist exhibition are offered the freedom to show whatever they choose, without the interference of a jury - but the group of painters who have formed the Societe Anonyme des Artistes are saddled with the sobriquet 'Impressionists' by a facetious critic.

24th Berthe Morisot's father dies.


12th Edmond de Goncourt describes Degas in his, Journal as 'a bizarre painter - a strange fellow, neurotic, sickly, with bad eyesight - he's always frightened of going blind - so far the most likely person I've met who can catch the essence of modern life in describing it.'

15th Manet publishes Boy with Dog and Civil War.

Boy with Dog

One of two lithographs Manet published in February, Boy with Dog is a faithful, even restrained, rendering of the painting of the same title that dates from 1861.

16th Degas persuades Faure to buy back from Durand-Ruel six paintings with which he is dissatisfied.

23rd Degas' father dies in Naples.

Dr Gachet urges Pissarro to organize a benefit auction of works by various artists to help Daumier, who has become virtually blind.


12th Opening of the Salon.

Manet's The Railroad and Pulcinello, are accepted; but his Masked Ball at the Opera and The Swallows
are rejected, provoking a remonstrative article by Mallarme in La Renaissance litteraire et artistique.
Mary Gassatt's Ida is admired by Degas.

15th The first exhibition of the Societe Anonyme des Artistes opens at 35 boulevard des Capucines.

25th Reviewing the exhibition, the critic Louis Leroy refers to the artists as 'the Impressionists'.

Sisley stays in London and paints at Hampton Court and Molesey.

Monet Working on his Boat in Argenteuil

In the summer of 1874 Manet visited his family home in Gennevilliers, near Argenteuil, where Monet was renting a house. One of the first fruits of the excursion was this painting of Monet and his wife in his studio boat (which had been constructed in imitation of the one used by Daubigny). Despite being essentially a sketch, it shows the increasing confidence with which Manet was starting to use Impressionist techniques. little hint is given of the condition of the river at the time, which according to a contemporary official report, was choked with 'an accumulation of filth, putrefying dead cats and dogs and slime'.

Durand-Ruel's Society of French Artists puts on an exhibition that includes works by Manet, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley.

Manet spends the summer at his family home in Gennevilliers, whilst Monet rents a house across the Seine at Argenteuil. Renoir often visits them, and the three artists paint each other and their families. Pissarro stays with the landscape painter Ludovic Piette in Normandy.

Van Gogh is transferred from London to Goupil's Paris headquarters.


3rd Van Gogh returns to London.

17th At a meeting in Renoir's studio, it is decided to wind up the Societe Anonyme des Artistes because of lack of funds.

22nd Berthe Morisot marries Manet's brother Eugene. Renoir's father dies.
The first exhibition of the Societe Anonyme des Artistes (Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs etc.) was held at 35 boulevard des Capucines, in what had until recently been the studios of Nadar, the photographer. A flight of stairs led directly from the street to the rooms, the walls of which were covered in red a colour favoured by Nadar. Admission cost 1 franc, and the catalogue (edited by Renoir's brother Edmond) 50 centimes. The exhibition, which ran from April 15th till May 15th, was open not only during the daytime but, as a gesture to the working classes, from 8.00 to 10.00 in the evenings. Despite the significance of the event for the history of art, the primary purpose of the
election of the committee of fifteen members. Originally the Impressionists intended to publish a journal, but this ambition was not realized until 1877. To cover expenses, a commission of 10 per cent was levied on sales. Exhibits were to be grouped in alphabetical order of artists' names, according to size, and hung no more than two rows deep. The hanging was in the hands of a committee chaired by Renoir, who did most of the work himself as other members failed to turn up.

Cover of the catalogue of the first Impressionist exhibition.

There were 165 works in the exhibition, including five oil paintings and seven pastels by Monet; four oils, two pastels and three water-colours by Morisot; six oil paintings and one pastel by Renoir; ten works by Degas; five by Pissarro; three by Cezanne; and three by Guillaumin. Some of the pictures were on loan, including Cezanne's Modern Olympia, Morisot's Hide and Seek (owned by organizers was not so much to promote a new style Manet) and two Sisley landscapes that had been of painting as to escape the constraints of the Salon bought by Durand-Ruel. Works exhibited that are and to give the artists an opportunity to show their work freely, without the interference of a jury or any State involvement.

The society had been constituted as a 'societe anonyme' (a limited liability company) open to anyone prepared to pay 60 francs a year. Each artist was entitled to have two pictures hung though this rule was not adhered to. All members had equal rights and could participate in the well known today included Degas' At the Races in the
, Monet's Impression: Sunrise and his Boulevard des Capucines, Morisot's The Cradle, Pissarro's The Orchard (painted in 1872) and Renoir's La Loge.

Boulevard des Capucines

Painted shortly before the opening of the first Impressionist exhibition, this urban view, Monet's most ambitious to date, was highly criticized. Leroy's imaginary academician, M. Vincent, was particularly outraged by Monet's depiction of the people, whom he described as looking like 'black tongue-lickings'.

The majority of the participants were not connected with the so-called Batignolles group and had been recruited by one or other of the sixteen founding members, Degas being especially active in this respect. Most of these 'outsiders' were regular exhibitors at the Salon. Some of the subscribers to the society did not participate.

There were 175 visitors on the first day of the exhibition and 54 on the last, the total attendance being around 3500. Nor was the exhibition disastrous from a selling point of view, although some exhibitors had pitched their prices too high Pissarro wanted 1000 francs for The Orchard and Monet asked the same for Impression: Sunrise, neither of which sold. Admittedly Sisley sold a landscape for 1000 francs, but that may well have been the result of a manoeuvre by Durand-Ruel.

Impression: Sunrise

The painting which aroused the ire of M. Vincent and gave its name to the group was originally entitled Sunrise at Le Havre. According to Edmond Renoir it was he who suggested to Monet that the title should be altered. It is thought that the work in fact portrays a sunset, not a sunrise.

The sum that accrued to the society from the 10 per cent commission on sales amounted to 360 francs, which implies that 3600 francs worth of pictures were sold. It is known that Monet received a total of 200 francs, Renoir 180 francs and Pissarro 130 francs, while Cezanne got 300 francs for his House of the Hanged Man. Although Renoir failed to achieve the 500 francs he wanted for La Loge, later he managed to sell it for 450 francs to Pere Martin, a small-time dealer and loyal supporter of the group. Neither Morisot nor Boudin sold anything, nor did Degas (most of his works, however, were lent).


This painting was one of the few in the first Impressionist exhibition that was not received with hostility by the critics; indeed, many praised it. The sitters were the artist's brother Edmond and a model known as Nini.

The accounts showed that the expenses of the exhibition came to 9272 francs and the receipts 10,221 francs, leaving 949 francs profit, to which were notionally added 2360 francs due in unpaid shares. As a commercial venture it was a failure: the amount the members received was not even sufficient to cover their dues, and Cezanne had to ask his father for money to pay what he owed.

House of the Hanged Man

Painted while he was staying with Dr Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise, this was one of three works shown by Cezanne at the first Impressionist exhibition. It was purchased by Count Armand Doria, an avid collector of Impressionist paintings, for 300 francs.
The exhibition received wide coverage in the press, and many of the reviewers reacted favourably. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of hostile reviews. The most notorious of these was Louis Leroy's piece headed 'The Exhibition of the Impressionists', published in the satirical magazine Le Charivari, which was responsible for the name 'Impressionist' catching on. In his review (part of which is reproduced below) Leroy described a visit to the exhibition with an imaginary companion, M. Vincent - a distinguished academician who ceaselessly poured scorn on the artists' efforts, deriding the 'impressions' that they were striving to achieve. As a final gibe, Leroy pictured M. Vincent standing in front of a fictitious attendant, yelling exasperatedly: 'Is he ugly enough?
From the front he has two eyes, a nose and a mouth. The Impressionists wouldn't have sacrificed to detail in this way!'
At the sight of this astounding landscape [Pissarro's The Ploughed Field], the good man [M. Vincent] thought that his spectacles were dirty, and wiping them carefully set them on his nose. 'Good God,' he said, 'What on earth is that? 'It's a hoarfrost on deeply ploughed furrows,' I replied. 'Those things furrows? That stuff frost? They look more like palette scrapings placed uniformly on a dirty canvas. It has neither head nor tail, top nor bottom, front nor back.' 'Perhaps, but the impression is there.' 'Well, it's a damned funny impression.'

...A little later he stopped in front of Monet's 'Impression: Sunrise'. His countenance was turning a deep red. A catastrophe seemed to me imminent, and it was reserved for M. Monet to contribute the last straw. 'Ah, there he is; there he is!' he shouted in front of Mo. 98, 7 recognize him; Papa Vincent's favourite! What does the canvas depict? Look at the catalogue, "Impression: Sunrise". I was certain of it! I was just telling myself that since I was impressed there had to be some impression in it... and what freedom; what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.'

LOUIS LEROY, Le Charivari, April 25th

The Cradle

One of the few successes of the first Impressionist exhibition, The Cradle appealed as much by virtue of its subject matter as by its style. What is essentially a portrait of Morisot's sister, Edma PontiUon, looking at her newly-born second child, can also be seen as being somewhat in the tradition of nineteenth-century sentimental painting.

M. Manet is among those who maintain that in painting one can, and ought to be, satisfied with the impression. We have seen an exhibition by these impressionalists on the boulevard des Capucines, at Nadar's. M. Monet, a more uncompromising Manet, Pissarro, Mile Morisot etc. appear to have declared war on beauty.

JULES CLARETIE, L'lndependant, April 20th

Berthe Morisot has wit to the tips of her fingers, especially at her fingertips. What fine artistic feeling! You cannot find more graceful images handled more deliberately and delicately than 'The Cradle' and 'Hide and Seek'. I would add that here the execution is in complete accord with the idea to be expressed.

JULES CASTAGNARY, Le Siecle, April 29th

What pleases us is the initiative taken by these artists, who without recriminations, protests or polemics, opened a room and said to the crowds: 'We see like this, we understand art in this way. Come on in, look, and buy if you like.'

EDOUARD DRUMONT, Le Petit Journal, April 19th

Thе means by which they search for their impressions will infinitely serve contemporary art. It is the range of painting's means that they have restored. And don't believe that this makes the palette a banal percussion instrument, as one might initially think. You need special eyes to be sensitive to
the subtlety of their tonal relations, which constitutes their honour and their merit.

ARMAND SILVESTRE, L'Opinion nationale, April 22nd

Looking at the first rough works - and rough is the right word -you simply shrug your shoulders; seeing the next lot, you burst out laughing; but with the last ones you finally get angry. And you are sorry you did not give the franc you paid to get in to some poor beggar.

UNSIGNED REVIEW, La Patrie, April 21st


At the Races in the Country

While he was staying with his friends the Valpincons at Menil-Hubert, Degas painted the racecourse at nearby Argentan. Paul Valpincon is depicted driving the tilbury, with his wife, recently-born son and a nurse seated behind him. The critic Ernest Chesneau praised the work when it was shown at the first Impressionist exhibition.