French Impressionism Impressionism grew in part out of ideas that had begun in the mid-1800s with the Barbizon School, a group of French Landscape painters who painted outdoors (en plein air) and broke with the tradition of the French Academy. Impressionists, who also painted outdoors, sought to capture the effects of light and color at a given time of day. Their broken brushwork and vibrant colors—many Impressionists eliminated black and gray from their palettes—imitated the play of light over forms in nature. Impressionists were also interested in the city, and many became astute observers of modern life, producing portraits and urban scenes. At first the Impressionists were almost universally scorned by the press and largely ignored by the public. Rapidly, however, Impressionism became one of the dominant modes of painting in France. By the turn of the century, impressionist paintings were in high demand on both sides of the Atlantic. Some of the artists in this gallery include Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.