The term, first used derisively, was derived from the title of a painting exhibited in 1874 by Monet, who exhibited the work independently of the official Salon in Paris along with artists such as Renoir, Cézanne and Pissarro.
'Impressionism' subsequently became widely used to describe the type of painting practised by this group of artists who exhibited together eight times up until 1886. They usually worked rapidly, in front of their subjects and often in the open air rather than in a studio, and took full advantage of the technical advances being made in the manufacture of artists' materials.
Their characteristic broken or flickering brush work was particularly effective in capturing the fleeting quality of light. They tended to be attracted to similar subjects, namely aspects of modern urban life and landscapes.
Find out more in our Guide to Impressionism