By the late 1860s, Monet and some of his contemporaries had developed highly individual styles. They had become exceptionally skilful plein-air painters, often working in each other's company and producing astonishingly vivid and believable 'impressions'.
'They are Impressionists in the sense that they render not the landscape, but the sensation produced by the landscape', explained the critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary in 1874.
Given their determination to render sensation in all its vividness, colour assumed the greatest importance for the Impressionists. In marked contrast to the Barbizon painters, they did not illustrate the fall of light in gradations of light and dark; instead, their painting seems to generate a light of its own.
Monet and his friends did not share a unified programme, but their work has certain features in common: a loosening of formal structures; light, bright colour; spontaneous-looking brushwork; novel approaches to composition; and a feeling of openness and improvisation. Their discovery of Japanese woodblock prints and a general awareness of photography were great influences.
Monet and Camille Pissarro were the principal organisers of the first Impressionist exhibition, held in Paris in 1874, in which 30 exhibitors banded together. It was one of Monet's paintings in this exhibition – Impression: sunrise – that suggested the name for this new style of painting.
Source: Maloon, Terence. Monet and the Impressionists exhibition brochure.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2008
Woman with a parasol and small child on a sunlit hillside c1874–76, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; bequest of John T Spaulding
Camille Monet and a child in the artist's garden in Argenteuil 1875, Claude Monet.
Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: anonymous gift in memory of Mr and Mrs Edwin S Webster