Impressionism emerged in France in the 1860s as a style characterized by painting in the outdoors using loose brushwork and bright colors. This type of “plein air” painting showed the effects of light and atmosphere. American painters and collectors who spent time in Paris in the late 19th century introduced the new style to the United States over the course of the next generation. The style would remain popular in American art into the 1910s and 1920s.
American painters who adopted an Impressionist technique are generally different from their European counterparts by retaining more structure and realism. Subject matter, rather than pure color, remained the Americans’ focus. The founding in 1897 by American Impressionist painters of The Ten American Painters was a rebellion by established artists against conservatism. They exhibited annually as a group until 1919. By then, Impressionism was an established part of American culture. Groups all across the country, from Indiana to California, developed identifiable Impressionist “schools” in the first decades of the 20th century.