Why did the Impressionist artists gravitate to Paris?

During the mid-nineteenth century, Paris was the creative centre of the art world. Artists, writers, poets and musicians from all across the world, flocked to the French capital.

Paris offered even then, the high esteemed academies and art schools, the Louvre and the Salons. And of course it was THE DREAM of all emerging artists to have their paintings accepted by and exhibited in the highly prestigious Paris Salon.

Pont Neuf Paris, Renoir painting [Public Domain]

The Impressionist artists in Paris

The Impressionism art movement also emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. However most art historians agree that impressionism itself first started in Normandie. But it also true to say that Paris was the intellectual nerve center of the Impressionism movement.

All the impressionist artists at one time or another, found themselves living in Paris, studying and trying to gain their fame and fortune in the French Capital.

It was here in Paris where the Impressionist artists had their own exhibitions and caused so much controversy in the art world. It was also in Paris, where they worked as a group and encouraged one another to continue despite the total lack of acceptance.

Montmartre and the Impressionists artists

Many of the impressionism artists lived in the bohemian village of Montmartre. This outer district of Paris was a working class and more rural part of Paris. It offered cheaper accomodation than the fancier parts of Paris.

Most of the impressionist artists were scraping to make ends meet, so this part of Paris was most affordable for them.

Montmartre was bursting at the seams with artists. They brought to Montmartre cabarets, night clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes. All these places were filled with artists having loud discussions about the future of art and painting.

Vincent Willem Van Gogh
Rural Montmartre – Van Gogh Painting

It is here that the impressionism artists painted so many beautiful paintings and started the beginnings of Modern Art.

Paris and the Legacy of the Impressionist Artists

Paris is still he best city in the world to enjoy Impressionism art. Below is a list of wonderful museums showcasing fantastic collections of the impressionists:

  • Musee D’Orsay – it is a huge museum and holds the greatest collection of the late 19th-century paintings anywhere.
  • Musee Marmottan Monet in Montmartre also has a superb collection and also houses the largest Monet collection anywhere
  • Le Petit Palais is the only museum that offers free admission EVERY DAY. It also showcases some fantastic impressionist paintings.
  • Musée Orangerie is a “Monet-Water-Lily-Dream-Museum” One of my personal favorites…. It also houses a wonderful impressionist collection
The magnificent Musee D’Orsay in Paris, (a former train station)

What else apart from Art Museums?

To appreciate the Impressionists, a visit to the Montmartre district is a MUST. It still has that rustic charm, not found anywhere else in Paris. And Montmartre still lures the artists. I recommend that you visit:

Moulin Rouge, Montmartre Paris CC0 Creative Commons

Hop on a train & do a great day trip to:

  • Giverny and visit the stunning Claude Monet house and gardens
  • Visit Pontoise – the place where Camille Pissarro lived for many years
  • Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo are buried. In Auvers, you can visit the Ravoux Inn. Climb up to the upper floor of the Inn to see the room where Van Gogh died. And while you are there, go visit the famous Church of Auvers that Van Gogh painted.


The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise by Vincent Van Gogh
The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise by Vincent Van Gogh Famous Paintings [Public Domain]

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