Room 44

Manet, Monet, and the Impressionists

In the 1860s Edouard Manet shocked exhibition visitors in Paris with his unflinching scenes of modern life, painted boldly and using sober colours. His radical style made a profound impact on many artists. The German Adolph Menzel responded directly to his innovative compositional techniques.

In the years to come Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley and other young painters in Paris would display an even stronger interest than Manet in the informal aspects of contemporary life. These artists, who often worked in the open air along the river Seine, experimented with flickering brushstrokes and bright colours to capture the fleeting effects of light. They exploited technical advances, such as oil paint in tubes that could be easily transported.

Repeatedly snubbed by the official art world, these painters banded together informally to advance their art. In 1874 they organised an exhibition of their works, which were dismissed as merely 'impressionist'. Nonetheless seven more Impressionist exhibitions followed, the last one taking place in 1886.