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Exploring Impressionism, Grades 9-12

Learn about Artists’ Lives and Explore Their Art with Lessons, Galleries, Activities, and Videos

Found In: arts, language arts, social studies, 9-12

The Impressionists were a group of Paris-based painters who became prominent during the 1870s and 1880s. The principal Impressionists were Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Armand Guillaumin, and Frederic Bazille. A characteristic of their art was an attempt to capture the changing effects of light and color. Learn about their lives and explore their art with lessons, galleries, activities, and videos.

Lesson Plans

Impressionism: What Can Art Tell Us about Ourselves?
Students in grades 9-12 consider the challenges of life as an adolescent working in Paris in the late 1800s by analyzing a series of works of art. They will compare the vocations depicted in the artworks with those they might encounter in 21st-century Los Angeles.

Painting like an Impressionist
Students in grades 9-12 demonstrate knowledge of the Impressionist style by using complementary colors, employing a variety of types of brushstrokes, and depicting a specific time of day or weather condition.

Discovering the Arts: Impressionism and Beyond ( PDF, 129 KB, 7 pgs.)
In this class project, students (grades 9-12) create an Impressionist exhibition to compare and contrast major artists of the movement. They discuss the techniques and subjects of this movement and develop a mini-exhibit about one

Lesson Plan Collections

When Impressionism Was a Dirty Word (Education at the Getty)
Four lesson plans (grades K-12) designed for teachers to prompt classroom discussion and learning around the history of Impressionist painting.


The Artist’s Toolkit
Students can explore the tools artists use: line, color, and balance to build works of art. Includes short videos of artists in action and an encyclopedia of visual elements and principles.

Art Access – Family Activities (The Art Institute of Chicago)
These three projects can be done at home or adapted to the classroom. Many of the supplies are household objects, and the steps are easy to follow.

Background Resources

Picturing France 1830-1900 (National Gallery of Art, NGA Classroom)
Picturing France, 1830–1900 is for middle and upper grade levels. It looks at nineteenth-century painting in France, as well as the culture that produced and is reflected by the art. Region by region, it provides a glance at the setting, history, and cultural life of Paris, the Île-de-France, the mountain areas of Franche-Comté and Auvergne, Normandy, Brittany, and Provence, as well as in-depth examinations of more than 50 works. Printable resources for students (a 159-page guide) and teachers (a 138-page classroom guide) are available for download.

Impressionism: Art and Modernity (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Thematic essays, slideshow, and maps.

American Impressionism (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Thematic essays, slideshow, and maps.

The Athenaeum
Search by artist to find downloadable images.

Impressionism and Impressionist Painters
Covers 12 Impressionist painters from Bazille to van Gogh.

Art Access – Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (The Art Institute of Chicago)
Images, lesson, activities.

Impressionism (WebMuseum, Paris)
A brief essay on the movement and its principal artists.

Impressionism (1860-1900) (WebMuseum, Paris)
Brief bios and examples of art for 20 artists.

Claude Monet: Life & Art
A website devoted to Monet’s life and works.


The Impressionists (British Broadcasting Corporation)
This 3-hour BBC mini-series tells the story of Impressionism most famous French artists – Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Manet. View it here in three parts via YouTube.

The French Impressionists (PBS Video) (58:26)
This PBS video documentary showcases “the color and texture that defined a turning point in art history.”

last updated: September 14, 2016


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