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)
Morisot's Retrospective
In memory of Berthe Morisot, who had died the previous year, the Impressionists organize a retrospective exhibition at Durand-Ruel's Paris gallery. Degas, Monet and Renoir hang her canvases, which, with their vibrant colour, loose brushwork and attractive subjects, are widely admired. The show is a considerable success.

1st Degas has an exhibition of photographs at the premises of Tasset, the frame-maker who develops and enlarges his prints.

5th Pissarro goes to paint in Rouen, where he remains till March.

23rd Durand-Ruel buys Ingres' portraits of Jacques-Louis Leblanc and his wife for Degas at a public auction, paying 11.000 francs.
At about the same time, Degas — who is intent on building up his personal collection - purchases two paintings by Cezanne, Three Pears and Green, Yellow and Red Apples, from Vollard.


4th Monet goes to Pourville-sur-Mer, near Dieppe, where he paints a number of seascapes.

20th Monet has several works included in an exhibition at Glasgow Institute.

Girl with a Greyhound (Julie Manet)

Included in Morisot's retrospective exhibtion in March, this portrait of her daughter and greyhound Laertes (a present from Mallarme) was described by Julie Manet in her diary: 'It shows me in the rue Weber drawing room, in front of a Japanese print, leaning slightly towards Laertes, in front of me.'


2nd-4th Degas, Monet and Renoir hang a retrospective exhibition of Morisot's works at Durand-Ruel's gallery.

5th Opening of the Morisot retrospective. It is favourable received both by the public and the press.

The title page from the retrospective exhibition
of Morisot's works at Durand-Ruel's gallery,
which ran from March 5 th to 21st.

14th Hugo von Tschudi, the newly appointed Director of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, acquires Manet's In the Conservatory for the gallery.


15th Pissarro has a one-man exhibition at Durand-Ruel's gallery. 'All my artist friends', he writes to his son Lucien, 'say the exhibition is very beautiful.' Durand-Ruel buys eleven of the pictures for 14,000 francs. (As a consequence, Pissarro is able to repay the balance of the money lent to him by Monet for the purchase of his house in Eragny.)


2nd Murer holds an exhibition of works by Guillaumin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley at his Hotel du Dauphin et d'Espagne in Rouen. It includes thirty works by Renoir. 6th Renoir has a one-man exhibition of forty-two works at Durand-Ruel's gallery.


15th La Revue blanche - the mouthpiece of the Symbolist movement, founded by the Natanson brothers in 1891 - publishes a laudatory article on Renoir by Thadee Natanson.

The Apple Seller
с. 1890

Exhibited at Durand-Ruel's gallery in May. The Apple Seller is an idyllic representation of rural life, reminiscent of an eighteenth-century French landscape.
The seated woman is possibly the artist's wife, Aline.


15th Renoir makes a trip to Germany with Gaillebotte's brother Martial. They see a Wagner opera at Bayreuth, which Renoir finds immensely boring. Later in the month they go to Dresden, where they visit the museums.


4th Pissarro goes to paint in Rouen again.

Renoir rents a studio in the rue de la Rochefoucauld.


4th Degas buys El Greco's Saint Dominic for 3000 francs from the writer Zacharie Astruc.

5th Five works by Degas are included in the annual exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh (probably through the influence of Cassatt.)

11th Pissarro has another eye operation.

21st Renoir's mother dies in Louveciennes at the age of 89.

The Rooftops of Old Rouen, Grey Weather (the Cathedral)

Painted during Pissarro's visit to Rouen at the beginning of the year, the viewpoint of this work is from the Hotel de Paris, looking over the old section of the city. The artist treated the subject in a totally modern way, using a remarkable blend of greys, reds, oranges and browns on the roofs and chimneys.
The family of Daniel Halevy was very much involved with the theatre. His father, Degas' friend Ludovic Halevy, was a dramatist and wrote the libretto for several of Offenbach's works as well as Bizet's Carmen, and his Aunt Genevieve (Ludovic's sister) married first Bizet and then the operetta composer Oscar Straus. The following extract is from the entry in Daniel's diary for January 2nd, 1896:

A photograph of Oscar Wilde
Dramatist Ludovic Halevy, who was at school with Degas at the Lycee Louis le Grand.
Degas said: 'Let's hope we shall soon have finished with art, with aesthetics; they make me sick-Yesterday I dined at the Rouarts'. There were his sons and some young people - all talking art. I blew up. What interests me is work, business, the army.'

I think that this outburst was triggered by a visit, to Liberty's shop in Paris. He went there with his friend Bartholome, the sculptor, and said to him: 'All this good taste will lead to prison.' This remark he repeated last year to Oscar Wilde. He met Wilde at Aunt Genevieve's, where they had a long, brilliant conversation, [full of exchanges] like this:

Wilde: 'You know how well known you are in England.

Degas: 'Fortunately less so than you.'

All the experiments in furnishing in the artistic style during the last few years exasperate
him. At the Champ de Mars exhibition he was hailed by Montesquieu [Comte Robert de Montesquiou. dandy and homosexual, one of the prototypes for Baron de Charlus in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu], who was standing in front of an apple-green bed he had designed. Degas delivered himself of a great harangue in front of a crowd of about a hundred people (unfortunately, I cannot remember it all):

Do you think', he said, 'that you will conceive better children on an apple-green bed? Watch out M. de Montesquiou, taste is a vice.' And he turned his back on Montesquiou, whose reputation is not too good - this was after the Oscar Wilde affair.

Pederasty and taste, Degas makes no distinction between them. It seems that a Maison de I'Art Nouveau' has recently opened in which young women sell objects of good taste. Degas said: 'It's a good thing they use women shop assistants. If they'd had men, the police would already have closed the place.'

This morning he stamped his foot as he was walking along the rue Mansard. 'Taste, it doesn't exist!' he exclaimed. 'An artist makes beautful things without being aware of it. Aesthetes beat their brows and ask themselves how they can make a pretty chamber pot. Poor creatures, their chamber pots may be works of art, but they'll make them stop urinating! Instead, they'll gaze at their pots and say to their friends "Look at my chamberpot. Isn't it pretty?" '
Radical politician, journalist, outstanding orator and one-time mayor of Montmartre, who later led France to victory in World War I, Georges Clemenceau was a staunch friend and supporter of the Impressionists, being especially close to Monet, whom he helped in a variety of ways.

Clmenceau had always been deeply interested и art, and in 1896 he published a volume of essays entitled Le Grand Pan - which included a piece on the mutability of vision, with special reference to Monet's Rouen Cathedral series:
The one thing that should give us pleasure in a constantly changing world is an awareness of that vital sense of life which powers the earth, the sea and the whole of nature.

It is this constant sense of movement, to be found in everу part of our planet, this ever changing miracle, which itself engenders others and which is to be found not only in men and animals but also in grass, trees and rocks, that provides for us a spectacle of which we never tire. Wherever I so, I analyse what I see: I try to grasp the fleeting, to understand the inexpressible mystery of things, and to savour the endlessly changing spectacle of life with a
heightened awareness.

Rouen cathedral is an unchanging and unchangeable object, vet it is one which provokes a constant movement of light in the most complex way. At every moment of every day the changing light creates a new view of the cathedral, which seems as though it were constantly altering. In front of Monet's twenty views of the building, one begins to realize that art, in setting out to express nature with ever growing accuracy, teaches us to look, to perceive, to feel. The stone itself becomes an organic substance, and one can feel it being transformed as one moment in its life succeeds another. The twenty chapters of evolving light patterns of the building have been skilfully selected to create an ordered pattern of evolution. The great church itself, a testament to the vivifying light of the sun, hurls its mass against the brightness of the sky.
Edouard Manet
Portrait of Clemenceau
c. 1879–80

Rouen Cathedral
Monet's "Rouen Cathedral" series
The Rouen Cathedral series was painted in the 1890s by French impressionist Claude Monet. The paintings in the series each capture the façade of the cathedral at different times of the day and year, and reflect changes in its appearance under different lighting conditions.


The Rouen Cathedral paintings, more than thirty in all, were made in 1892 and 1893, then reworked in Monet’s studio in 1894. Monet rented spaces across the street from the cathedral, where he set up temporary studios for the purpose. In 1895, he selected what he considered to be the twenty best paintings from the series for display at his Paris dealer’s gallery, and of these he sold eight before the exhibition was over. Pissarro and Cézanne visited the exhibition and praised the series highly.

Historically, the series was well-timed. In the early 1890s, France was seeing a revival of interest in Catholicism and the subject was well received. Apart from its religious significance, Rouen Cathedral–built in the Gothic style–represented all that was best in French history and culture, being a style of architecture that was admired and adopted by many European countries during the Middle Ages.

Painting Light
When Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral series, he had long since been impressed with the way light imparts to a subject a distinctly different character at different times of the day and the year, and as atmospheric conditions change. For Monet, the effects of light on a subject became as important as the subject itself. His Series Paintings, in which he painted many views of the same subject under different lighting conditions, are an attempt to illustrate the importance of light in our perception of a subject at a given time and place.

Robert Pelfrey, in Art and Mass Media (Kendall/Hunt, 1996), says:

By focusing on the same subject through a whole series of paintings, Monet was able to concentrate on recording visual sensations themselves. The subjects did not change, but the visual sensations – due to changing conditions of light – changed constantly.

The cathedral series was not Monet's first series of paintings of a single subject, but it was his most exhaustive. The subject matter was a change, however, for prior to this series, Monet had painted mostly landscapes. The cathedral allowed him to highlight the paradox between a seemingly permanent, solid structure and the ever-changing light which constantly plays with our perception of it. There were calls for the state to buy the entire series and exhibit them as a whole, but unfortunately these calls were not heeded and the series was divided.

Painting the cathedral was a challenging task, even for Monet. Michael Howard, in his Encyclopedia of Impressionism (Carlton, 1997), writes:

As always, the pictures gave him intense difficulties, which threw him into despair. He had vivid nightmares of the cathedral in various colors – pink, blue and yellow – falling upon him… [Monet wrote:] ‘Things don’t advance very steadily, primarily because each day I discover something I hadn’t seen the day before… In the end, I am trying to do the impossible.’

Monet found that the thing he had set out to paint–light–was, because of its ever-changing nature and its extreme subtlety, an almost impossible thing to capture. He was assisted, however, by his ability to capture the essence of a scene quickly, then finish it later using a sketch combined with his memory of the scene. For these paintings, he used thick layers of richly textured paint, expressive of the intricate nature of the subject. Paul Hayes Tucker, in Claude Monet: Life and Art (Yale University Press, 1995), writes:

Monet’s sensitivity to the natural effects he observed are just one factor that make these pictures so remarkable; the way he manipulates his medium contributes to their majesty as well. For the surfaces of these canvases are literally encrusted with paint that Monet built up layer upon layer like the masonry of the façade itself.

The subtle interweaving of colors, the keen perception of the artist and the use of texture all serve to create a series of shimmering images in light and color–masterpieces worthy of the grandeur of their subject matter.

Rouen Cathedral, West Façade, Sunlight
National Gallery of Art
Washington, D.C., USA
Rouen Cathedral,red, Sunlight
National Museum of Serbia
Belgrade, Serbia
La Cathédrale de Rouen. Le portail et la tour Saint-Romain, plein soleil ; harmonie bleue et or
Musée d'Orsay
Paris, France
La Cathédrale de Rouen. Le portail, soleil matinal; harmonie bleue
Musée d'Orsay
Paris, France
Rouen Cathedral, Facade (sunset), harmonie in gold and blue
Musée Marmottan Monet
Paris, France
The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light, 1894, J. Paul Getty Museum.
The portal and the tower of the saint-romain at morning sun, Harmony in Blue
Musée d'Orsay
Paris, France
Rouen Cathedral, Facade (Morning effect)
Folkwang Museum
Essen, Germany
Rouen Cathedral, Facade 1
Pola Museum of Art
Hakone, Japan
Rouen Cathedral, The Façade in Sunlight
Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, USA
Rouen Cathedral, West Facade, 1894, National Gallery of Art Rouen Cathedral, West Facade, Sunlight, 1894, National Gallery of Art
Rouen Cathedral- Setting Sun, (Symphony in Grey and Pink), 1894, National Museum Cardiff, Great Britain
Rouen Cathedral, Facade and the Tour d'Albane. Grey Weather, 1894, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen La Cathédrale de Rouen. Le portail et la tour Saint-Romain, effet du matin ; harmonie blanche
Musée d'Orsay
Paris, France
Rouen Cathedral, Facade and Tour d'AlbaneI, dull day
Beyeler Museum
Riehen, Switzerland
Rouen Cathedral, the West Portal, Dull Weather
Musée d'Orsay
Paris, France
Rouen Cathedral: Facade and Tour d'Albane (Full Sunlight)