Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the National Gallery Collection
Explore the history and techniques of Impressionism. Find out how a radical breakaway movement became one of the most popular styles in modern art.
Despite today Impressionist and Post-Impressionists artworks selling for millions of dollars and attracting countless visitors in museums, when the artworks were first made they were highly criticised. The word ‘Impressionists’ was intended as an insult. Many critics of the movement came forward claiming ‘trees are not violet … the sky is not the colour of fresh butter’ - Albert Wolff.
However, take a short trip down to St James Park from National Gallery (where we will be holding our Impressionism and Post-Impressionism tour), and you will realise that trees really can be purple!
Did the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists see something no one else could? Why were they so criticised? What made this movement special that to this day it still captures us? These and many more questions will be answered during the Private Art Educations National Gallery tour on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
"Never before have paintings appeared to me to possess such an overwhelming dignity. One can almost hear the inner voices of the earth and sense the trees burgeoning..." -Emile Zola, on Camille Pissarro
Friday, the 21st of September 18:30-20:30
Saturday, the 22nd of September 12:00-14:30
Thursday, the 27th of September 15:30-18:00
1,5-hour art tour with Sanela Tomlinson followed by 1-hour tea/coffee/lunch networking.
£55 for a one-time visitor.
We reimburse the ticket price if you become a member within a week after the tour — take advantage from our unique art program with lots of art events, education and quality time with friends.
FREE for Private Art Education members plus guest. Meet extraordinary people, share your art enthusiasm and make friends! Find out more about OUR MEMBERSHIP
The Impressionists established, above all, that reality, seen outside the distorting convention of the studio, breaks down into impressions into optical phenomena, into a vibrant display of splashes of colour and light. Tangible, material reality becomes a volatile metamorphosis of coloured pictures. The aim is to portray the perpetual transience, the endless rebirth, through light effects, of the infinite universe of pictures which make up the world of vision.
The first step taken by the Impressionists was to put sensation' in the place of knowledge; changing appearance in place of the material concreteness of objects; fugitive, relative vision in place of lasting reality
Art tour location: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Meeting point - main entrance information desk.
Art History Context:
Today many love Impressionist artworks but did you know that when this style first originated it was met with disdain and anger? Moreover, the name Impressionism was inspired by the satirical comment of Louis Leroy, who upon seeing the work of Monet’s, Impression Sunrise, stated that he agreed that it is an impression rather than a finished artwork. Thus, embark on this tour and learn how the Impressionists overcame opposition from the audience to pursue a yet undiscovered stylistic path.
The term 'Impressionist' was first used as an insult in response to an exhibition of new paintings in Paris in 1874. A diverse group of painters, rejected by the art establishment, defiantly set up their own exhibition. They included Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas. What characterises Impressionism for most people nowadays, is both the subject matter and the technique. Landscapes and scenes from modern urban and suburban life painted in bright, pure colours are typical. Impressionists often began (and sometimes completed) their paintings outdoors rather than in a studio. Their rapidly applied brushstrokes are often visible. Today, the Impressionist paintings are some of the best-known and best-loved in the collection. It takes a leap of the imagination for us to realise how radical the movement was considered in its day.
Modern life and the way that ordinary people spent their free time were popular subjects with many Impressionist painters. Monet, Renoir and Degas show us the theatres, cafés, and popular countryside resorts of late 19th-century Paris.
Traditionally in France the middle classes had not been considered fit subjects for serious painting, while the working classes and the peasantry were usually portrayed as comic yokels, or timeless figures of rural life.
Broadly speaking the term Post-Impressionism embraces the artists working in France in the 1880s, immediately after the Impressionists. It was coined by Roger Fry for his exhibition of 1910 in which he showed Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin and Seurat. The classification covers artists who were aware of Impressionism but who sought to move beyond it - the term is sometimes applied to late work of the original Impressionists. In the main, the post-Impressionist artists were less concerned with recording optically accurate appearances - as the Impressionists had been - than with the symbolic or expressive possibilities of representation.
Learn more from the source, The National Gallery
Images: Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899 (c) National Gallery London,
Renoir, At the Theatre (La Première Sortie), 1876-7 (c) National Gallery London,
Vincent van Gogh, A Wheatfield, with Cypresses 1889, (c) National Gallery London.
Monet, Bathers at La Grenouillère, 1869