A direct descendent of French Impressionism, American Impressionism uses the same bright palette and bold brush work of the original school, but attempts to create significantly more recognizable subjects. Still painted "en plein air", American Impressionists frequently choose brightly lit outdoor settings, and aim to finish their work on location.
The earliest American Impressionists began to paint in this manner as early as the 1880s, after making visits to Europe, or France, where the style was finding a great deal of favor. While others began to experiment with the techniques after seeing the French paintings in several American exhibitions.
By the early part of the twentieth century the style had secured a place in the American art world, and there were artistic colonies on both coasts that worked in the new American Impressionistic style. In areas like Cos Cob and Old Lyme, Connecticut to Carmel and Laguna Beach, California the groups banded together, even staging exhibitions or initiating art associations in the nearest town.
This was particularly true of the Boston, Massachusetts area, where the distinct "Boston School" of painting developed under artists Frank Weston Benson and Edmund Charles Tarbell, as well as in New York, where William Merritt Chase was an active painter and teacher.
The coming of the Great Depression began a new era in American painting, and the Impressionist's genteel scenes and leisurely images fell out of favor. In the post-World War II era however the beauty of the canvases began to be appreciated once again and today many painters work in the style of the American Impressionists.
Prominent members of the school include Mary Cassatt, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Childe Hassam, Guy Rose, John Henry Twachtman, and Joseph DeCamp among many more.