While today’s impressionist art is inspired by artists from a bygone era, this style of art is still revered today, visible on the walls of our museums and our homes.
Inspired by famous impressionist artists, interior designers reach for this classic style to decorate both traditional and contemporary spaces.
Why? Because impressionism is all about being bright, vibrant and bold with colour while creating an ‘impression’ of an object – mostly outdoors – that is normally quite subtle but ends up presenting itself as something larger than life.
What follows is a decorator’s dream – a glimpse at the old masters and the new beauties they’ve inspired.
As the founder of French impressionist painting, Claude Monet was known for painting the same scene over and over at a different season or time of day to depict the subtle differences of light and natural forms. Many artists since have been inspired by his famous piece ‘Impression, Sunrise’, capturing the natural world using bold colour and short brushstrokes.
Another French painter, Gustave Caillebotte’s impressionism was slightly more realistic than his counterparts, perhaps explaining his early interest in photography. Often considered a ‘neo-impressionist’, Caillebotte’s works crossed a number of different styles. He’s best known for urban paintings ‘The Europe Bridge’ and ‘Paris Street; Rainy Day’, works that still excite artists and art lovers today.
French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one of the most famous artists of the 20th Century, celebrated feminine beauty and sensuality. One of his primary subjects were female nudes, but he also captured people in other intimate settings with plenty of light and colour.
If you want to bring colour and life to a room, think Renoir.
French post-impressionist painter Georges Seurat is known for devising the Pointillist method of painting which involves using small dot-like strokes of colour.
For someone who brought such a unique use of colour into the world and influenced a generation of artists, his life was cut short at 31 when he died from an unknown disease. His first born child died two weeks later, his unborn child at birth and his partner Madeleine Knobloch – the subject of his painting Young Woman Powdering Herself – also died at age 35 from cirrhosis of the liver. Such tragedy; such wasted talented.
5. Van Gogh
How did such despair generate such a rich and remarkable body of work? Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh is considered a post impressionist painter, but how can we exclude him from a piece on impressionism when his broad brushstrokes, use of colour and ability to convey emotion are pure genius?
Get into the spirit of Van Gogh with sunflowers. Keep life bright. Live long and prosper.
And we’re back in France again, but this time featuring our first female artist, impressionist painter Berthe Morisot. Among landscapes, still lifes and portraits, she also loved painting domestic scenes, making life at home seem full of wonder. Bring awe into your own indoor world with a Morisot inspired print.
French painter Edgar Degas preferred being called a realist than an impressionist, but is known in the art world as one of the founders of impressionism. I guess you can’t always get what you want!
Degas’ favourite subject was dance. Through his paintings, he danced and danced and danced. You too can welcome dance into your home with a homage to Degas.
British-French artist Alfred Sisley was dedicated to outdoor (or en plein air) impressionism, favouring sombre colours over brights. With such a prolific career as an artist, let’s all be thankful he dropped out of studying business in London to return to Paris to paint, despite struggling with a lifetime of poverty.
The epitome of the poor, struggling artist, he has made a massive impact on many an impressionist landscape painter. Thank you Sisley.
Danish-French Camille Pissarro was both an artist and a mentor within the impressionist movement, a master of composition and colour modulations to suggest space depth.
Many of his first paintings, essentially the birth of impressionism, were used as doormats by soldiers – what a different time! Luckily, his legacy lives on.
Like Morisot, French painter Edouard Manet was a master of turning everyday modern life into unconventional art. He not only had a revolutionary approach to form, but to subject as well.
Many of Manet’s pieces caused controversy. Perhaps today’s artists owe it to him for opening up doors to different art styles. Yesterday’s ‘scandalous’ has become today’s ‘courageous’.
Henri Rousseau, considered an impressionist in the ‘naive’ manner, was originally derided by critics but revered by the likes of Picasso and Kandinsky for the exact same thing – the art of simplicity.
Drawing his inspiration from nature, he is now considered a self-taught genius. Let’s all embrace Rousseau!
Last but certainly not least is French artist Paul Cézanne who formed the bridge between impressionism and post impressionism, inspiring generations of modern artists.
He considered colour, line and form inseparable, something that works wonderfully as wall art as it can be chosen to complement existing decor without the fuss of analysing the subject matter.