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academic painting: painting that is produced under or influenced by the standards of the major European art academies. Academic art is typically based on traditional accepted styles. At the time of the Impressionists, much of academic art was based on the work of the Old Masters, distinguished artists of the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

allée: a pathway lined with trees.

atelier: an artist’s studio or workroom.

avant-garde: a term describing art or artists who challenge accepted (usually academic) standards to explore techniques or concepts in an original way.


Barbizon school: a group of French landscape artists who worked in the village of Barbizon near the famous Fontainebleau forest in the 1840s. The works of the group were based on direct study from nature through plein-air painting, although many of their finished works were completed in the studio.

brushstroke: a mark of paint made by a single movement of a brush or other painting instrument.

Frédéric Bazille (1841–70): One of the core group of early Impressionist artists. He was killed in action in the Franco-Prussian War. Bazille was from a wealthy family and provided financial support to his friends Renoir and Monet.


Paul Cézanne (1839–1906): a painter considered by many to be an essential figure in the development of modern art. Though Cézanne did exhibit with the Impressionists, his work emphasizes form and structure rather than atmosphere and transient effects of nature.

cityscape: a type of landscape painting that shows a view of the city or urban area.

classical: art that utilizes principles of balance and rational order associated with art of the past, particularly art of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

composition: the arrangement and proportion of parts of a work of art in relation to each other and to the work of art as a whole.


Paul Durand-Ruel (1831–1922): a French art dealer who was a supporter and advocate for artists of the Barbizon School as well as the Impressionists.


Henri Fantin-Latour (1836–1904): painted using traditional methods and style, specializing in flower paintings and portraiture. Despite his own style being traditional, he was friends with many of the modernist painters of his day including Edgar Degas, James Abbot McNeill Whister, and Édouard Manet.


genre: a category of artistic composition characterized by particular form or content. Examples include landscape, portrait, and still life.

Charles Gleyre (1808–74): a Swiss-born painter who worked in Paris. He was a teacher to many Impressionists, including Renoir, Bazille, Monet, and Sisley.


impasto: a thick, textural application of paint on the surface of a painting.

Impressionist Exhibition: a series of eight art exhibitions held in Paris between 1874 and 1886, independent of the Salon. The name "Impressionism" was coined by art critic, Louis Leroy, after he viewed their first exhibition. Leroy intended the term as a criticism of the art shown in the exhibition that, to him, appeared unfinished. The name Impressionist was not adopted by the group until three years later. Artists who are considered Impressionist painters are specifically those who participated in any of the Impressionist Exhibitions.


landscape: a work of art depicting natural outdoor scenery usually without any intentional narrative focus.

Jules Le Coeur (1832–1882): a painter who lived in the village of Marlotte near the forests of Fontainebleau. Le Coeur and Renoir were friends, and Renoir spent some time early in his career staying with the Le Coeur family and following the example of Barbizon painters by experimenting with plein air effects.


Édouard Manet (1832–83): a painter considered by many to be an essential figure in the development of modern art. Manet took modern life as a subject for many of his paintings. His style is characterized by bold brushwork, an absence of half-tones and generous use of black paint.

Claude Monet (1840–1926): a landscape painter and leading member of the Impressionist group. Many of his landscapes were painted en plein air. Monet’s paintings reflect his careful observations about the way in which the colors of objects are affected by their environment.


naturalistic: a representation of a subject such that natural characteristics are rendered accurately and objectively, not stylistically.


Camille Pissarro (1830–1903): a painter and leading member of the Impressionist group who exhibited in all eight Impressionist group exhibitions. Pissarro coined the term "pure landscape" to describe landscape paintings that show little or no evidence of human activity.

plein air: painting done outdoors for the purpose of directly observing effects of light and air. Plein-air technique was central to Impressionist landscape painting.

pure landscape: a landscape that shows little or no evidence of human presence.


Salon: the official French art exhibition held annually (at its beginning in the seventeenth century, the exhibition was not held every year) in Paris. The Salon was a competitive exhibition which tended to favor traditional, academic, classical art over innovative and avant-garde works. Works were selected by a jury. Inclusion in the Salon often lead to commissions and sales.

seascape: a work of art depicting a view of the sea.

Alfred Sisley (1839–99): a landscape painter and leading member of the Impressionist group. He was born in Paris to English parents and spent most of his life in France. Sisley was friends with Renoir, Monet and Bazille.

sous-bois painting: a French term, literally "under wood," that refers to painting the interior of a forest. Lighting and atmospheric effects are considered to be a particular challenge of sous-bois painting. It was a subject that was frequently painted and sketched by artists of the Barbizon School.

study: a drawing or painting that is made as a preliminary draft for a more finished and refined work. A study can also be a painting that is made as a way to explore a certain subject or experiment with a technique or style. The French term for a study using color is pochade.

subject: something represented in a work of art.


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