Impressionism was born in Paris in the early 1860s. It was a reaction against the realistic painting style of the time, which was almost photographic in quality, with a smooth texture, focused on details.
It could be said the Impressionists offered a new kind of realism. They took to the outdoors to paint, instead of making a sketch and bringing it back to the studio as a reference for a painting. This necessitated a different, quicker technique, where the texture of the brush strokes became part of the finished picture, and paint wasn’t allowed to dry before additional layers were applied.
Impressionist paintings are full of vivid color and light, even in the background.
Some leading Impressionists were Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-August Renoit.