19th Century: Impressionism and Post-Impressionism
This is perhaps the most recognizable moment in art history. Reproduced in calendars and on coffee mugs and t-shirts, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists are possibly the most loved and recognized group of painters in art history.
Impressionist artists were interested in capturing the “impression” of a moment. Their paintings often retain the spontaneity of a sketch and are characterized by broken brushstrokes of color. They were often interested in capturing a particular quality of light as it reflected off of water, filtered through a tree canopy, or reflected off of mirrors.
Some artists, like Monet, painted “plein air” or outdoors. Since the light was constantly changing as the sun traveled across the sky, they would have to paint very quickly. Rather than completing a detailed underpainting, they would paint directly onto the canvas.