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)
Degas Steals the Show

The Realist tendencies of the previous year are confirmed in the composition of the sixth Impressionist show, dominated by Degas. Caillebotte believes Degas to be responsible for dividing the group, and joins those boycotting the exhibition.

Durand-Ruel starts buying from Renoir.
Sisley has an exhibition at the gallery belonging to La Vie moderne (the periodical founded by Charpentier in 1879).

Durand-Ruel buys a number of paintings from Pissarro for 12,000 francs, thus temporarily alleviating his financial difficulties.

The Ministry of Fine Arts relinquishes control over the Salon to a body of artists named the Societe des Artistes Francais. Under a new constitution any artist whose work has been accepted by the Salon will be entitled to vote for the jury.

7th Renoir departs for a brief visit to Algiers and writes to Duret: 'I am set on seeing London this year'. (He later abandons his plans.)

Arab Festival

The most ambitious figure painting Renoir brought back from his first Algerian trip in 1881, its subject matter has caused controversy - some commentators asserting that the crowds are involved in a religious service, others that they are watching jugglers. The work was first shown at Durand-Ruel's gallery in 1888, and was subsequently sold to Monet in 1900.

Van Gogh leaves Brussels to stay with his family at Etten.

2nd The sixth Impressionist exhibition opens.

20th Renoir rents a studio at 18 rue Norvins. Later he meets Whistler while visiting Chatou.


1st Opening of the Salon.

Manet and Renoir each have two works accepted, and Manet is awarded a second-class medal for his portrait of the veteran Communard Henri Rochefort.

Portrait of Henri Rochefort

An active Communard, Henri Rochefort was exiled to New Caledonia in 1873. The following year he escaped and, as a result of the Amnesty Act, was able to return to Paris on July 21st, 1880, where he was greeted as a public hero. Marcellin Desboutin introduced Rochefort to Manet, who was anxious to paint his portrait. Unfortunately, the sitter disliked the result and rejected it. Manet sold the work to Faure in 1882, as one of five works for which he was paid a total sum of 11,000 francs.

7th Cezanne and Pissarro paint in Pontoise, where they are joined by Gauguin.

18th Durand-Ruel pays Degas 5000 francs for The Dance Lesson, which he immediately sells to Man' Cassatt's brother for 6000 francs.


Manet spends the summer in Versailles as an invalid, due to his chronic circulatory problems.
Berthe Morisot holidays in Bougival.
Renoir stays with his patrons the Berards at Wargemont and visits the painter Jacques-Emile Blanche in Dieppe.


Pissarro's daughter, Jeanne, is born.


15th Cezanne returns to Aix-en-Provence from Pontoise.

28th Renoir leaves for a three-month tour of Italy. He is accompanied, at least for part of the time, by his mistress Aline Charigot.

The Doge's Palace, Venice

On his tour of Italy in 1881, Renoir made his first major stop in Venice, and was delighted by the city. His Venetian canvases focus on the famous sites - he painted the Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal as well as this view. Most of the works, as he confessed to Durand-Rucl, were not finished in Venice but completed on his return to Paris.


6th Berthe Morisot departs for Nice, where she remains for the winter.

12th Manet's friend Antonin Proust becomes Minister of Fine Arts in Gambetta's government.

Portrait of Antonin Proust

Manet first portrayed his lifelong friend Antonin Proust in the mid 1850s, and twice attempted to paint him in 1877. He obviously found the subject difficult - Proust related that Manet used seven or eight canvases before he was happy with the result. The portrait was submitted to the Salon of 1880, where, although generally well-received, it was criticized both by Zola and Joris-Karl Huysmans.

26th Eadweard Muybridge gives a demonstration of his photographic recording of the movement of horses in Meissonier's studio.


8th Degas is introduced toJacques-Emile Blanche at a sale of Courbet's works. (The two artists become friends, and Degas frequently stays with Blanche in Dieppe.)

10th Monet moves to Poissy with Madame Hoschede and her children.

15th Degas writes to Pissarro saying that he is resigning from the Impressionist group 'because I cannot continue to serve as a prop to M. Raffaelli and company.'

30th Manet is made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. His state of health deteriorates.



This work was admired by Huysmans, who wrote: 'Here is a girl of our time, who doesn't pose for an audience, who is neither lascivious nor affected, who is simply concerned with mending her clothes.'

The sixth Impressionist exhibition ran from April 2nd to May 1 st, and was simply titled '6e Exposition de peinture par...' The premises were the same as for the first exhibition Nadar's old studios at 35 boulevard des Gapucines but it was shown in five smaller rooms at the back of the building that were badly lit, low ceilinged and cluttered with furniture.

Degas exhibited six paintings and a sculpture, which was not in position until April 14th. There were seven paintings and two sculptures by Gauguin; seven works (both paintings and pastels) by Morisot; and eleven by Gassatt. Pissarro contributed twenty-seven works, including a number of pastels in gold frames that were tinted with various shades of green and yellow, with the edges painted in complementary colours. The other exhibitors all proteges of Degas were Raffaelli, Rouart, Tillot, Vidal, Vignon and Zandomeneghi.

This was definitely a Degas exhibition, with a heavy emphasis on Realism as one of the alternative hallmarks of the new movement complementing, or competing with, the stylistic concerns of painters such as Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Sisley, none of whom participated. Even Pissarro - though normally more concerned with the considerations that preoccupied the abstainers was predominantly represented by works of a Realist kind, many of them featuring either rural labourers or the market gardens that had sprung up around Paris to satisfy the needs of the ever-growing population.

In addition to the emphasis on Realism, the exhibition was notable for the almost universal approval given to works by Cassatt and Morisot; and also for the presence of three-dimensional work by Degas and Gauguin. Both Degas' wax figure of the 14-year-old Belgian dancer Marie van Goethem and Gauguin's woodcarving Dame en promenade were remarkable for the almost brutal quality of their appearance, and also for their use of colour in the clothes of the dancer and in the wood of the walking figure, which was stained red.

In terms of attendance numbers and review coverage the sixth exhibition was not a success. More significantly, it emphasized the schism that had taken place in the movement.


The Little Dancer of 14 Years

Made in translucent wax, the figure wears a wig, which was probably bought from the model's landlady (a Mme Cusset, who specialized in the sale of wigs for dolls). The dancing shoes, gauze tutu, stockings and silk faille bodice are all real, as is the green ribbon which binds the hair. The model was Marie van Goethem, a dancer at the Opera, who spent much of her time at the Brasserie des Martyrs, a well-known haunt of painters and sculptors.

Although Degas listed The Little Dancer of 14 Years in the catalogue of the fifth Impressionist exhibition, he withdrew it (the reason for which is unknown). The figure eventually appeared at the sixth Impressionist exhibition, where it was shown in a glass case.

The Dance Class
с. 1878-81

An X-ray analysis of this work shows that Degas made frequent changes to the position of the dancers. Once satisfied, however, that these were correct, the artist painted several variations on the theme. This canvas was commissioned by Mary Cassatt for her brother Alexander, and the family's correspondence reveals their frustration with the delay in the painting's delivery.
The dissensions that existed amongst the Impressionists are strikingly illustrated by a letter Caillebotte wrote to Pissarro in January 1881, which was found among the latter's papers after his death:
What is to become of our exhibitions? This is my well-considered opinion: we ought to continue, and continue only in an artistic direction, the sole direction in the final sense - that is of interest to all of us. I ask, therefore, that a show should be composed of all those who have contributed anything of real interest - that is you, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Mme Morisot, Mile Cassatt, Cezanne, Guillaumin; if you wish, Gauguin, perhaps Cordey [a disciple of Renoir], and myself. That's all, since Degas refuses a show on such a basis. I should rather like to know whether the public is interested in our individual disputes. It's very naive of us to squabble over such things. Degas introduced disunity into our midst. It is unfortunate for him that he has such an unsatisfactory character. He spends his time haranguing at the JVouvelle-Athenes or in society. He would do much better to paint a little more. That he is a hundred times right in what he says, that he talks with infinite wit and good sense about painting, no one doubts (and isn't that the outstanding part of his reputation?). No, he has gone sour. He doesn't hold the prominent place that he ought to according to his talent and, although he will never admit it. he bears the whole world a grudge...

He has almost a persecution complex. Doesn't he want to convince people that Renoir has Machiavellian ideas?... One could put together a whole volume of what he has said against Manet, Monet and you...

I ask you: isn't it our duty to support each other and to forgive each other's weaknesses rather than to tear each other down? To cap it all, the very one who has talked so much and wanted to do so much has always been the one who has contributed the least... All this depresses me deeply. If there had been only one subject of discussion among us, that of art, we would always have been in agreement. The person who shifted the question to another level is Degas, and we would be very stupid to suffer from his follies. He has tremendous talent, it is true. I'm the first to proclaim myself his great admirer. But let's stop there. As a human being he has gone so far as to say to me. speaking of Renoir and Monet, 'Do you invite these people to your house?' You see, though he has great talent, he doesn't have a great character.