By the turn of the century, the Impressionists had lost their cohesion, both in their style of painting and in their solidarity as a group. And gradually they were dying off: from the original group, Gustave Caillebotte died in 1894, Berthe Morisot in 1895 and Alfred Sisley in 1899.
Pissarro had contracted a chronic eye infection which forced him to work indoors, but he enjoyed a decade of prosperity and professional success until his death in 1903.
Both Cézanne and Renoir were regarded as non- or even anti-Impressionists. During the 1900s Renoir was hailed as the grand old man of French art, associated with the classic figurative tradition, shown in the exhibition by his sculpture Small Venus victorious. Crippled by arthritis, he went to live in the south of France, dying in Cagnes-sur-Mer at the height of his fame in 1919.
Like Renoir, Degas made sculptures in his late years. He was going blind, but his limited eyesight allowed him to model figurines in wax, studying their silhouettes against a strong light. He died in 1917.
Monet, the longest lived of the group, was now considered to be the Impressionist. He continued to paint until his death in 1926. After the decline of his reputation, lasting almost three decades, his Waterlily series (which had preoccupied him for more than 20 years) was 'rediscovered' in the 1950s, and had a delayed but profound impact on contemporary art.
Both macrocosm and microcosm, these lily ponds uncannily evoke the drift of planets through infinite space. Or, as Monet expressed it: 'An instant, an aspect of nature contains all of nature'.
Source: Maloon, Terence. Monet and the Impressionists exhibition brochure.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2008