A method of painting intended to capture the impression of a scene and not a realistic representation of it, Impressionism directly rejected the conventional, Academic style of painting prevalent in France through the mid-nineteenth century.
The earliest practitioners of the style included Claude Monet, Pierre August Renoir and Alfred Sisley, who would go on to inspire or teach another generation of Impressionists, including Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro among others.
The Impressionists worked "en plein air", utilizing bright palettes and bold brushwork to capture the scene they were viewing. Because their goal was to capture the immediacy of the subject, they usually finished a work on location. In fact, Monet would become known for painting a particular area of his famous gardens at Giverny in France under every conceivable type of light and weather.
Their subject matter included landscape and floral scenes as well as genre and portrait work. The style evolved into several other "movements" including American and California Impressionism, and it is still employed in the modern era.
Later movements, such as Pointillism, are direct descendents of the original school and are grouped together under the heading of "Post-Impressionism".