National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Postimpressionism

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image of Place du Carrousel, Paris image of Farmhouse in Provence image of La Mousmé
1 2 3
image of The Olive Orchard image of House of Père Lacroix image of Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit
4 5 6
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The label "postimpressionist" was unknown to most of the artists to whom we apply it today. When the term was coined by English critic Roger Fry in 1910, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat, and Cézanne were all dead. It does not describe a single style or even one approach. The bold, intense colors of Gauguin and Van Gogh are highly expressive—even emotional—while Seurat's systematic color dots and Cézanne's concern with structure seem more cerebral. In a sense, postimpressionist describes only what these artists were not: no longer satisfied to transcribe primarily visual effects. Like many artists in the 1880s they looked for ways to express meaning beyond surface appearances, to paint with the emotions and the intellect as well as the eye. The term postimpressionist does, however, acknowledge that impressionism had shaped these artists.


1Camille Pissarro, Place du Carrousel, Paris, 1900
2Vincent van Gogh, Farmhouse in Provence, 1888
3Vincent van Gogh, La Mousmé, 1888
4Vincent van Gogh, The Olive Orchard, 1889
5Paul Cézanne, House of Père Lacroix, 1873
6Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit, c. 1900
7Georges Seurat, The Lighthouse at Honfleur, 1886