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)
Financial Disaster

Three years after the first exhibition, 1877 brings no improvement in the Impressionists' financial position, and Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley are particularly afflicted. The third exhibition is not a great financial success and begins to sow the seeds of disunity.

Degas pays 20,000 francs to the Bank of Antwerp to cover debts incurred by his brother Rene in managing the family bank.

Caillebotte invites Degas, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley to dinner at his apartment in order to discuss plans for the third Impressionist exhibition.

La Cote des Boeufs, the Hermitage
Oil on canvas
National Gallery, London


15th L'Union set up by Pissarro and Alfred Meyer (a minor painter and part-time dealer) as an alternative group to the Impressionists - holds an exhibition at the Grand Hotel in the boulevard des Capucines. It is a complete failure, Cezanne, Guillaumin and Pissarro having decided to leave the group shortly before the opening of the exhibition.


Berthe Morisot rents an apartment for painting in Paris, near L'Etoile, in order to free herself from the family environment.

A photograph of Berthe Morisot, taken around 1877

19th Manet asks Albert Wolff, the art critic of Le Figaro, to support a sale of paintings that the Impressionists are planning to hold at the Hotel Drouot by writing a favourable preview.

Gauguin moves to 74 rue des Fourneaux. Influenced by his landlord, the sculptor Bouillot, he begins to sculpt and produces a bust of his wife Mette.
Cezanne stays with Pissarro at Pontoise.

4th The third Impressionist exhibition opens in an apartment at 6 rue Le Peletier, near Durand-Ruel's gallery.



The front page of the first edition of the journal L'Impressionniste, which appeared weekly and ran to four issues during the third Impressionist exhibition.

The first issue contained a letter to the editor of Le Figaro, attacking the paper's art critic Albert Wolff for his venomous opposition to the movement.

Publication of the first issue of L'Impressionniste, journal d'art - a weekly journal edited by 22-year-old Georges Riviere, a friend of Renoir's who features in his painting Dancing at the Moulin de la Galetk. (The journal appeared regularly throughout the exhibition. Renoir, who had actively supported the idea from the first, was one of the contributors.)


1st Opening of the Salon.

Manet's Fame in the Role of Hamlet is accepted, but the jury rejects his Nana on the grounds of impropriety as its subject is the prostitute in Zola's novel L'Assommoir, which is currently the talk of Paris. The painting is also criticized for its loose technique and garish colours. All Mary Cassatt's submissions are rejected.


The title suggests that this painting was an illustration for Zola's novel of the same name, but this had in fact yet to be written. The character Nana does, however, appear towards the end of Zola's L'Assommoir of 1877: 'Since the morning, she had spent hours in her chemise before the bit of looking glass hanging above the bureau.' This is a young, fresh Nana, at the beginning of her career and the model for the painting was Henriette Hauser, a young actress who was the mistress of the Prince of Orange.

10th Manet's Nana is exhibited in the window of Giroux's, a fashionable millinery shop in the boulevard des Capucines.

19th Van Gogh begins to study for the ministry in Amsterdam.

21st Degas, deeply depressed, writes to the wife of Giuseppe de Nittis: 'To live alone without a family is too hard. I never thought that I would suffer so much. Here I am, getting old, and almost penniless. I have organized my life in this world very badly.'

28th The sale at the Hotel Drouot, organized by Renoir, is financially disappointing.
Renoir's fifteen paintings fetch a total of 2005 francs; Pissarro's go for 50 to 260 francs each, and Sisley's for 105 to 165 francs.
Caillebotte is more successful, selling one painting for 635 francs. The forty-five canvases altogether command little more than 7610 francs.

Degas visits the Valpincon family at Menil-Hubert.

15th Renoir meets Leon Gambetta, the successful left-wing politician, who is now Minister of Public Instruction, and asks him for a job as curator of a provincial museum.

25th Degas moves into a new apartment at 50 rue Lepic, off the boulevard Clichy.

The Star

One of a series of pastelized monotypes that Degas started in 1876, The Star was the only work Degas sold at the third Impressionist exhibition. It was bought by Caillebotte.

The patissier Eugene Murer, a new patron of the Impressionists, opens a restaurant at 95 boulevard Voltaire and offers to holds dinners there for his painter friends on Wednesday evenings.


An engraving by Mouchot showing an auction at the Hotel Drouot.
Named after one of Napoleon's marshals, whose home it had been, the Hotel Drouot was the state-controlled auction house often used by artists, not only as a saleroom but as a gallery where they could exhibit their work. For art buyers and dealers, it provided a good guide to the kind of prices works of art were currently fetching. It was also the place where an artist's unsold works were auctioned following his death. When Manet died in 1883, 159 of
his works were sold at the Hotel Drouot for 116,637 francs.

On two occasions, in 1875 and again in 1877, groups of Impressionists - first Monet, Morisot, Renoir and Sisley, then Caillebotte, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley - attempted to circumvent the dealers by offering their work directly to the public. But at the first of the two sales the public jeered and heckled the auctioneer to such an extent that the police had to be summoned, and both events proved to be financially disappointing. Although dealers such as Paul Durand-Ruel and Georges Petit were capable of inflating prices artificially at such auctions, generally the prices at the Hotel Drouot reflected prevailing market conditions.

The Pont de I'Europe

The Pont de I'Europe was one of the major engineering achievements of Baron Haussamann's redevelopment of Paris. It spanned the station and engine-sheds of St-Lazare and was the focal point of the Quartier de I'Europe (so called because many of the streets took their names from European cities). The figure of the top-hatted man walking towards us is based on CaillcboUc himself.

Street in Paris, A Rainy Day

Caillebotte painted this monumental work when he was 29 years old. One of the most remarkable essays in urban Realism produced during the nineteenth century, it gives an insight into the extraordinary effect that the development of this district must have had on the artist when Caillebotte was born the area was a relatively unsettled hill outside the city limits. Instead of the bustling crowds seen in so many Impressionist street scenes, such as Monet's Boulevard des Capucines, this painting shows a vast expanse peopled by isolated pedestrians.
Entitled simply 'Exposition de peinture par...', the third Impressionist exhibition was held at 6 rue Le Peletier from April 4th to 30th. Only eighteen artists participated, compared with thirty in 1874 and nineteen in 1876. Altogether 241 works were on show, including six by Caillebotte, sixteen by Cezanne, twenty-five by Degas, including The Star, thirty by Monet (mostly painted during the previous year), twenty-eight by Pissarro's friend Ludovic Piette, twenty-two by Pissarro, twenty-one by Renoir and seventeen by Sisley. Many of the works were on loan. Of the Monets, for instance, eleven were lent by Ernest Hoschede, one by Manet and ten by other collectors; and of the Sisleys, three were lent by Hoschede, three by Georges de Bellio (a Romanian doctor who was a keen collector of Impressionist paintings), two by the publisher Charpentier, one by Duret and one (The Bridge at Argenteuit) by Manet.

These two caricatures by Cham ridiculing the third Impressionist exhibition appeared in the magazine Le Charivari. In the first, the critic is saying 'But these are the colours of a corpse', to which the painter replies 'Unfortunately I can't get the smell.' In the second, the gendarme is advising the pregnant lady 'Madame, it would be unwise to go in.'
The exhibition was held in a five-room apartment almost opposite Durand-Ruel's gallery, the rent being paid by Caillebotte, who was to be reimbursed out of the admission charges. Extensive advance publicity had been organized including widely displayed posters, once again paid for by Caillebotte. It was estimated that there were 8000 visitors; and many of them were harangued by Victor Chocquet - who was in attendance every day, energetically expatiating on the little-appreciated merits of Cezanne. Coverage by the press was extensive, some fifty reviews appearing in an impressive variety of newspapers and journals.

The largest room contained works by Caillebotte, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley. Degas was the only artist to have a room devoted entirely to his own work. In addition to seven paintings of the Gare St-Lazare (the first of Monet's series), Monet exhibited The White Turkeys - a large painting lent by Hoschede, for whose house at Montgeron (which can be seen in the background) it was intended, as part of the decorative scheme. Other significant works included Caillebotte's Street in Paris, A Rainy Day, which he had finished the previous month, and his The Pont de L'Europe, painted in 1876. Renoir's masterpiece Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette, also painted in 1876, which was given the place of honour in the third room, dominated critical comment on the exhibition.

Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette

One of several mills in Montmartre, the Moulin de la Galette ('galette' meaning a small pancake) was close to the rue Cortot, where Renoir had taken a studio specifically to paint this scene. Many of the figures in the painting are recognizable as the artist's friends and acquaintances. Well received at the third Impressionist exhibition, it was bought by Caillebotte, who included it in the background of his Self-Portrait at the Easel.

The hanging carried out by a committee consisting of Caillebotte, Pissarro and Renoir - had been the subject of considerable thought and discussion. Indeed, unlike the previous shows, the third exhibition was very carefully planned and arranged. Most of the works had been chosen with an artistic audience in mind, and there was even a balanced selection of subjects, rural and urban landscapes, genre scenes, portraits and still lifes being fairly evenly represented.

At Caillebotte's dinner party in January a policy had evidently emerged of making the exhibition not merely an opportunity to display the artists' work, but also to establish the Impressionists as a coherent and clearly recognizable stylistic force. Ironically, however, it succeeded in fostering latent rivalries among them and promoted yearnings for individual recognition rather than for closer association. It is significant that at the next exhibition, two years later, Cezanne, Morisot, Renoir and Sisley did not participate.

The Gare St-Lazare

Monet obtained official permission to paint the engine-sheds at the Gare St-Lazare. In this view he managed to catch perfectly the light, airy atmosphere created by Eugene Flachat, who in 1837 designed the station as the terminus of the first railway built in France.
RENOIR Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette

Renoir exhibits a large canvas showing a dance at the Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre. The painter has very accurately presented the boisterous and slightly disorderly scene at this open-air cafe with dancing, perhaps the last such cafe remaining in Pans. People are dancing in the little garden next to the mill. A great, brutal light falls from the sky through the green, transparent foliage, gilding blonde hair and pink cheeks, and tossing sparks onto the ribbons of the young girls. This light illumines the painting right to the background with a joyful glow which is even reflected on the shadows. In the midst of all this light, a crowd of dancers twists and turns in the many postures of a frantic choreography. It is like the shimmer of a rainbow.

С. FLOR O'SQUARR, Le Courrier de France, April 6th

CAILLEBOTTE Street in Paris, A Rainy Day

This painting shows the intersection made by the rue de Turin and the rue de Moscou, seen on a rainy day. Again this is very well drawn, only Caillebotte has neglected to provide any rain. That day the rain seems to have left
no impression on him at all.

L'Evenement, April 6th

MONET The Gare St-Lazare

Monet loves this station and he has presented it several times before, with less success. This time it is really wonderful. His brush has expressed not only the movement, colour and activity, but the clamour; it is unbelievable. Yet this station is full of din - grindings. whistles - that you can make out through the confusion of clouds of grey and blue smoke. It is a pictorial symphony.

'JACQUES', L'Homme litre, April 11th

DEGAS Portrait

It is hard to understand exactly why Degas categorized himself as an Impressionist. He has a distinct personality and stands apart from the group of so-called innovators. Moreover, Degas does not seek to hide the sources of his talent, and even gives us an autobiographical sketch. Presented on an easel and under a carefully chosen ray of light is a portrait of a woman that evidently was not painted for the good of the cause, as it is dated 1867. The work is serious, with some Italian reminiscences. Its individual character has clearly been sought for; the modelling is simple and broad. We shall not ask ourselves how the Florentine of ten years ago has become today's Impressionist. Proximity does not create kinship. Degas may be exhibiting near Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne and Claude Monet, but he does not belong to the family. He is an observer; a historian perhaps.

PAUL MANTZ, Le Temps, April 22nd
It cannot be sufficiently stressed that the Impressionists did not possess a strictly defined set of technical rules, nor did they share the same attitudes towards considerations such as composition, brush-work and colour manipulation. There is, for instance, little to link the style and technique of Monet with that of Degas, little even to link an early Manet such as Olympia with a later work such as Argenteuil.

There are, however, certain technical attitudes which are generally assumed to be typical of the Impressionist movement. The most frequently quoted of these is plein-air painting, which is based on the desire to capture the immediate impact of a visual expression by painting a picture out of doors, consistently in the same light. This technique was not quite as innovative as is sometimes claimed. Powered to a certain extent by the essentially Romantic concept of 'Nature', which had been evolving since the late eighteenth century, it was practised extensively not only by Turner and the painters of the Barbizon school but also by academic teachers such as Delaroche and Couture, who took their students on open-air painting excursions. Dr Gachet noted how it was practised by Cezanne; and Monet, its most vocal exponent, would have ten or fifteen paintings of the same site going simultaneously, each one marked on the back with its date and time.

A lithograph by Daumier published in the satirical magazine Le Charivari in 1865. The caption reads 'Landscape Painters: the First copies Nature, the Second copies the First.'
Cezanne setting out on an open-air
painting expedition in Auvers, с 1874.
However, many of Monet's claims to absolute dependence on plein-airisme must be treated with caution. Many of his works were finished in the studio, and there is some evidence to suggest the he occasionally relied on the camera to record certain effects for subsequent reference.

The second technical characteristic of the Impressionists was in their approach to colour. This can be attributed in part to the discoveries of the chemist Eugene Chevreul (1786-1889), predominantly those principles which concerned mixed and successive contrasts. Chevreul demonstrated that if two strips of the same colour but of different shades are placed side by side, then the part of the lighter strip nearest to the darker strip will appear lighter than it is. He also showed that every colour tends to tint its neighbours with its own complementary colour.