Impressionism and Industrialisation 19th Century

A revolutionary movement in its day, Impressionism later became a widely accepted and popular style of painting. Impressionism began in France in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. The Impressionists were a group of young painters who came together in Paris in the 1860s.

There were a lot changes taking place in France at this time due to the Industrial Revolution and the Impressionists felt that it was their duty to record and document the changing landscape. They were very interested in the effects of light on an environment. Advances in science also influenced the Impressionists' painting technique.

Style and technique

  • Painted outdoors – plein air  
  • Paint was applied in small, visible brushstrokes – the mixing was done by the retina of the eye
  • Black was not used as black does not exist in nature – tones of colour used instead

Key artists:

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, 1874 (Image/Illustration)

Edgar Degas (1834-1917),The Dance Class, 1873-6 (Image/Illustration)

Pierre August Renoir (1841-1919), Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876 (Image/Illustration)

Alfred Sisley (1839-99), The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammès, 1888 (Image/Illustration)


A painting style developed by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) and Georges Seurat (1859-91), based on the colour theory of the scientist Chevreul. Rather than mixing colours on a palette these artists would apply tiny dots of pure pigment to the canvas in order to make secondary and tertiary colours in the minds eye. This laborious technique is often referred to as divisionism or pointillism.

Georges Seurat, The Circus, 1891
Paul Signac, Lady on the Terrace, 1898


The Post-Impressionists were not an organised group. They are merely a group of unrelated artists who continued on with the Impressionists’ style, either developing from it or reacting to it. Their subject matters were various.

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? 1897

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), Bedroom in Arles, 1888 and Self Portrait, 1889


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