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Impressionist & Modern Paintings

The French Impressionists opened a radical new style of painting, as well as a new way of marketing their work. They carried tubes of paint into the countryside to make plein-air paintings. They also sought to capture their experience of light, rather than an academically correct scene.

Popular Artists

Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisely, and Berthe Morisot were the core of the Impressionist group. Paul Durand-Ruel championed the Impressionists, and was a new sort of art dealer. He bought canvases from the artists in batches when he could, and carefully managed the price the works received and who could buy them.

Durand-Ruel told the artists when to continue producing certain works that consistently sold well, such as the Rouen Cathedral and haystack paintings by Monet. He also had a group of “art critics” with whom he collaborated. These critics wrote articles for the press discussing the merits of the Impressionist painters; this was the beginning of the critic-dealer system.

Today, the major Impressionist works are mostly owned by museums. Works by less-remembered French impressionists, as well as American, Canadian, and Australian impressionists, are still circulation.

Quick Facts

  • Japanese business tycoons had a voracious appetite for Impressionist works in the 1980s. Unfortunately, sometimes they paid extremely high prices for works of middling quality
  • Edouard Manet is remembered as an Impressionist, however he stood somewhat apart from his compatriots, because he wanted them to continue showing in the annual Paris Salon and they preferred their independent shows
  • Edouard Manet's "Le Printemps," 1881, sold at Christie’s New York for $65 million on November 5, 2014. The painting is now owned by the Getty Museum

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