Learning Realism, Impressionism & Post-Impressionism Art History with Amazon Prime

Welcome to part three of my series on learning art history with Amazon Prime! In this four-part article series, I’ve assembled an organized guide to art history videos available for free viewing for Amazon Prime members. We’ll look at resources available on Amazon Prime Video for learning about Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism in this part of the series

[Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.]

The post-1850 artistic styles of Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism existed alongside something new: photography. Where previously art had a practical purpose to preserve or convey an image, now photography usurped that and made arts like painting a solely expressive and decorative pursuit. This made styles like Impressionism possible.

Musee D'Orsay Paris
Musée D’Orsay – Paris

Travelers to Paris will definitely want to learn about this period of art history, as the city has a myriad of art museums dedicated to it including Musée D’Orsay, Musée Marmottan Monet, Musée L’Orangerie, and Musée Rodin. (And of course Monet’s legendary garden at Giverny is a day trip outside the city.) In Amsterdam, visitors will find the Van Gogh Museum dedicated to the life and works of the great Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. London offers the Courtauld Gallery, and the National Gallery to see paintings of the period.

With these guides you’ll be able to select just the content that you are looking for. Work your way through each section in chronological order, or go straight to a specific topic or artist. Simply find the era you want to learn about and then select either a general educational resource, or for more detail select an artist from the alphabetical listing.

[Content Warning: Some programs in these listings feature art that contains nudity or unvarnished intimate details of artists’ personal lives. I suggest pre-screening content before showing it to children if that concerns you.]


Realism

Every artistic movement creates a backlash, and for Romanticism that backlash was Realism. The artists of the Realist movement portrayed the real world in their art: real people, real places, real life. Instead of presenting the world through “rose colored glasses” and romanticizing it, their images showed the gritty reality of all classes of life and all types of people.

ReArt: Wanderers: Aleksey Savrasov, Ilya Repin, Isaac Levitan, Ivan Shishkin, Viktor Vasnetsov


Realist Artists

The Realism movement was centered in 19th century France with names like Manet, Corot and Courbet, but extended into other countries (and even into the 20th century with artists like the American Ashcan school).

The list below is alphabetical and may be missing artists of note because they do not have free content on Amazon Prime Video.

Albert Anker (1831-1910)

This Swiss painter and Illustrator is often referred to as the “national painter” of Switzerland because of his works’ pastoral depictions of Swiss village life. Anker’s work has been featured on Swiss postal stamps. His studio in Ins, Switzerland is preserved as a museum. 

Paintings of the World (Episode 1)

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

Hopper is the pre-eminent 20th century American realist painter. His spare style influenced later prominent modernists like Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothco. Hopper’s most famous picture, the diner scene “Nighthawks”, can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 1, Episode 4 – Edward Hopper – Nighthawks)

Édouard Manet (1832-1883)

Despite being considered a major foundational figure for Impressionism, Manet persisted in submitting to the official Salon throughout his career instead of joining the exhibitions put on by his Impressionist friends. A few paintings like “The Spanish Singer” did gain acceptance to the Salon. But Manet’s controversial style of putting nudes in contemporary settings led the Salon to refuse others considered masterworks today (“Olympia” and “Luncheon in the Grass”, both of which can be seen at Musée D’Orsay in Paris). 

Manet and the Birth of Impressionism: In this 90 minute biography, British art critic Waldemar Januszczak explores the complex and talented man credited with founding Impressionism but who held himself apart from it.

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 1)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 16 – Edouard Manet:”Olympia”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 17 – Edouard Manet: The Salmon)

Exhibition on Screen (Season 1 – Episode 2 – Manet)

Ilya Repin (1844-1930)

Repin was one of the first Russian painters to gain fame in Europe, exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1874-1876 and serving as a painting judge at the 1900 Paris Exposition. He’s famous for painting for scenes of peasant life, such as in his famous painting “Barge Haulers on the Volga”. The work of Ilya Repin helped provide the foundation of 20th century Soviet realist art. 

Paintings of the World (Episode 7)

Famous People of the World: Ilya Repin


Impressionism & Post-Impressionism

In the second half of the 19th century, the detailed, almost photorealistic style of realism gave birth to its opposite: Impressionism. This new revolution in painting focused not on capturing the subject in accurate detail, but rather on capturing the play of light on a scene. The Impressionists also advanced the idea of painting “en plein air”, painting out in nature. Small brushstrokes of paint replaced detailed lines in making an image. Rejected by the traditional annual Paris Salon exhibitions due to their radical painting style and subjects, the Impressionists banded together to form their own exhibition.

Post-Impressionism, despite its name, started with artists like Cezanne and Van Gogh working alongside the Impressionists. Where Impressionism sought to capture light, Post-Impressionism sought to capture meaning. More abstract than Impressionism, Post-Impressionism was the bridge between that style and modern art styles like Cubism and Fauvism.

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow: This British show is hosted by art historian Tim Marlow. The short 23-minute episodes each focus on just a single artist, making them a great starting point for learning the history and biography of the artists.

Season One: Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh.

The Impressionists: British art critic Waldemar Januszczak’s approach here is to tell the story of the Impressionist art movement as a whole, rather than focusing solely on individual artists. Over the course of four episodes (each an hour long), he traces the Impressionist movement and its most famous artists, influences and places.

The Impressionistic Masters: A very brief (26 minute) documentary that provides an overview of the Impressionist movement and the major artists that were a part of it: Degas, Monet, Renoir, Pissaro, and others.

ReArt: Impressionism: Gaugin, Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Konstantin Korovin, Oleksandr Murashko, Camille Pissarro, Frederic Bazille, Henri Rousseau, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Exhibition on Screen (Season 2 – Episode 5 – The Impressionists)

Exhibition on Screen: History’s Greatest Artists (Season 3 – Episode 3 – Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse)

Hermitage Masterpieces: (Episodes 17 & 18) This 18-part series examines the art masterpieces by artists like Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, Matisse, Velasquez, El Greco, Rubens, and Renoir that are housed in Russia’s Hermitage Museum. Each approximately half-hour episode focuses on a different type or period of art. This series was filmed before the fall of the Soviet Union, when the Hermitage was off-limits to Western visitors.


Impressionist & Post-Impressionist Artists

The majority of the artists in the Paris-based Impressionist movement were French. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements created some of the most famous names in all of art history: Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir, to name just a few.

The list below is alphabetical and may be missing artists of note because they do not have free content on Amazon Prime Video.

Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870)

Bazille’s career in Impressionism is largely a story of unrealized potential, since he was tragically killed in battle at age 28 during the Franco-Prussian war. Before his untimely death, the wealthy young art student was friends with (and generously shared his studio with) fellow Impressionists Monet, Sisley, Manet, and Renoir. Bazille was thus involved in the early development of Impressionism, but due to his early death and small body of work has remained a relatively obscure artist compared to his contemporaries. 

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 25 – Frederic Bazille:”The Terrace At Méric (Oleander)”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 26 – Frederic Bazille:”Port Of The Queen At Aigues-Mortes”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 27 – Frederic Bazille:”The Little Gardener”)

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

Caillebotte is largely known for painting Paris street scenes that had a more realistic style than his fellow Impressionists. Wealthy in his own right, Caillebotte didn’t need to make a living selling his art, and was able to finance Impressionist exhibitions and support his Impressionist friends by buying their art. After his death in 1894, he bequeathed his collection of Impressionist art to the Louvre, where it became the basis of the French national collection of their art seen today at Musée D’Orsay and other French museums. 

Masterworks from Great Museums of the World (Season 20 – Episode 3 – Gustave Caillebotte – Paris Street Scene in the Rain)

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

Cassatt, the sole American to exhibit with the Impressionists, lived most of her adult life in France pursuing her art career. Cassatt was mentored by Degas, and is largely known for her portraits. Late in her career she especially focused on portraits featuring mothers with children. In addition to her own creative work, Cassatt’s relationships with American collectors Bertha Palmer and Louise Havemeyer influenced their purchases of Impressionist art that later served as the foundation for the Chicago Institute of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections, respectively.

Great Artists with Tim Marlow (Season 2 – Episode 11)

Masterworks from Great Museums of the World (Season 20 – Episode 1 – Mary Cassatt – The Bath)

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)

Cézanne is the French Post-Impressionist artist who laid the foundation for the transition to modern art, influencing Matisse and Picasso among others. He was taught and influenced by Camille Pissarro, and exhibited in the early Impressionist exhibits. Today, visitors to Aix-en-Provence can still visit his studio there, preserved as a museum. Cézanne held the record for highest price ever for a painting (a rumored $250-$300 million in 2011 for “The Card Players”) until the sale of Da Vinci’s newly discovered “Salvator Mundi” in 2017. 

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 6)

Brushstrokes: Every Picture Tells A Story (Season 1 – Episode 3 – The Card Players by Paul Cezanne)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 11 – Paul Cezanne:”Still Life with Peppermint Bottle”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 12 – Paul Cezanne:”Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan”)

ReArt: Expressionism (Episode 8 – Paul Cezanne “The Peppermint Bottle”)

Art of the Heist (Episode 5 – Chasing Cezanne)

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Degas Little Dancer Musee D'Orsay
Edgar Degas – Little Dancer – Musee D’Orsay, Paris.

Although regarded by art historians as one of the founders of Impressionism, Degas shunned the label and preferred to be called a realist. He is mostly known for his works of ballet dancers, such as the iconic oil painting “The Dance Class” that hangs today at Musée D’Orsay in Paris. Degas worked in a variety of mediums, including pastels, sculpture, printmaking, and even photography. He only exhibited one sculpture during his lifetime, but that groundbreaking piece  “Little Dancer” is now in the collection of Musée D’Orsay. 

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 4)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 18 – Edgar Degas:”The Laundresses”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 19 – Edgar Degas:”Three Dancers in an Exercise Hall”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 20 – Edgar Degas:”Blue Dancers”)

Art of the Heist (Episode 2 – The World’s Biggest Heist)

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

This French post-Impressionist artist is famous for the boldly colorful tropical Tahitian theme of his later period of works. Gauguin was mentored and influenced by both Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro, and was good friends with Van Gogh. His work is considered controversial by some because of his taking several teenage Tahitian girls as mistresses during his time in that country. 

Gaugin: The Full Story: British art critic Waldemar Januszczak spends much of this two hour documentary exploring the darker side of of Gaugin and his time creating his iconic Tahitian themed works.

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 7)

Paul Gaugin: Paradise Beyond The Horizon

Brushstrokes: Every Picture Tells A Story (Season 1 – Episode 1 – The Vision After the Sermon by Paul Gauguin)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 1 – Paul Gauguin:”The King’s Wife”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 2 – Paul Gauguin:”When Will You Marry?”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 3 – Paul Gauguin:”Two Tahitian Women”)

Max Liebermann (1847-1935)

Libermann, a German Ashkenazi Jew, was the leading Impressionist in Germany and president of the Prussian Academy of the Arts in Berlin until forced to resign by the Nazis in 1932. Much of Liebermann’s work was confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and some has never been recovered. Liebermann’s summer home at Lake Wannsee in Berlin is now a museum (Liebermann Villa) that tells the story of his life and displays his work created at the home.  

Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World (Season 17 – Episode 1 – Max Liebermann – Woman Wending Nets)

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Monet Waterlilies Musee L'Orangerie 2
Claude Monet – Waterlilies – Musee L’Orangerie, Paris.

Considered the founding father of Impressionism, Monet’s work was commercially successful during his lifetime. The term “Impressionism” was coined from the name of Monet’s 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise”, which hangs today in the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Monet is best known for painting images of the waterlilies in the garden of his home (which is now a museum) in Giverny, outside of Paris. The most famous of his waterlily paintings are eight wall-sized canvases that he donated to the French state to celebrate the end of World War I, which are now on display at Musée L’Orangerie in Paris. 

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 2)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 13 – Claude Monet:”The Luncheon”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 14 – Claude Monet:”In the Meadow”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 15 – Claude Monet:”Jeanne-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden”)

Paintings of the World (Episode 6)

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

The only artist to take part in all 8 of the Impressionist exhibitions in Paris, Pissarro was influenced by his teacher Camille Corot. Pissarro transitioned through several markedly different styles during his painting career (Pre-Impressionism, Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism). His work is considered a key part of the birth of Impressionism, but a large number of the canvases he created during this period were lost to art history in the Franco-Prussian war. 

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 24 – Camille Pissarro:”L’Hermitage At Pontoise”)

Paintings of the World (Episode 5)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Renoir, one of the most famous of all the Impressionist artists, was instrumental in its development. Known for his use of brilliant color, he found financial success by promoting his skills at portraiture while largely ignoring the landscape painting genre favored by other Impressionists. Renoir is especially famous for his paintings of women, both nude and in domestic settings, as well as his lively paintings of outdoor social gatherings like “The Luncheon of the Boating Party”. His signature painting “Two Sisters” can be seen today at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 3)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 29 – Pierre-Auguste Renoir:”The Umbrellas”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 30 – Pierre-Auguste Renoir:”On The Terrace”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 31 – Pierre-Auguste Renoir:”The Pont des Arts and the Institut de France”)

Exhibition on Screen: History’s Greatest Artists (Season 3 – Episode 2)

Renoir [Drama]

Art of the Heist (Episode 1 – The Big Sting)

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

Auguste Rodin The Kiss Rodin Museum
Auguste Rodin – The Kiss -Musee Rodin, Paris.

Although considered by many to be the father of modern sculpture, Rodin also produced thousands of paintings, drawings and prints. Detail and depth of emotion are signatures of his sculptures, bringing an accusation of fakery when he produced his first masterpiece “The Age of Bronze”. Rodin was especially prolific at portraits, producing a large number of busts of well-known contemporaries. Rodin’s former Paris home is now open to the public as the acclaimed Musée Rodin. Visitors to the museum can view his personal art collection alongside a large collection of his work, including famous works like “The Thinker”, “The Gates of Hell” and “The Burghers of Calais”.

Great Artists with Tim Marlow (Season 2 – Episode 10)

Stealing Rodin: A theft of a Rodin sculpture from an exhibit in Santiago turns out to be something more complicated – a stunt coordinated by an art student that prompts a public debate.

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)

This English artist spent most of his life in France. Sisley painted almost exclusively landscapes, and is known in particular for his light palette and expressive skies. He often painted alongside his Impressionist friends Monet and Renoir, but his work never found the success during his lifetime that his compatriots did. 

Paintings of the World (Episode 4)

Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923)

Sorolla, a Spanish Impressionist who preferred to work en plein air, is known for his brightly sunlit scenes. His most famous painting, “Sad Inheritance”, is known for being perhaps the first artistic portrayal of polio victims. Sorolla’s 227 foot long mural called “The Provinces of Spain” took 8 years to paint for the Hispanic Society of America building in New York City, and can still be seen there today. Sorolla’s former studio in Madrid is now preserved and open to the public as a museum. 

Sorolla, Journeys of Light

Henri de Toulouse-Latrec (1864-1901)

The work of this French post-impressionist painter, caricaturist, and illustrator is considered almost synonymous with Paris today. Toulouse-Latrec’s iconic posters featuring the Moulin Rouge and other Paris themes are sold to tourists at numerous bouqiniste stalls along the Seine in Paris. A health problem that shortened his legs, his frequenting of brothels and cabarets, and his severe alcoholism have made Toulouse-Latrec a figure of pop culture fascination in movies like Moulin Rouge. The Musee de Toulouse-Latrec in Albi, France was founded by the artist’s parents and holds the world’s largest publicly viewable collection of his work.

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 5)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 8 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:”La Toilette”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 9 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:”Seated Dancer in Pink Tights”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 10 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:”The Laundress”)

Toulouse-Lautrec

Moulin Rouge [Drama]

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

This Dutch post-Impressionist was never a success in his own lifetime, but today is one of the world’s most famous artists. Van Gogh’s frequently shifting style was known for his use of color and bold brushstrokes. He frequently painted self-portraits. Van Gogh’s life has entered pop culture as the archetype of the “tortured artist” due to his battle with mental illness (including cutting off his own ear), and early death from suicide. Several movies have been made of his life along with a famous episode of the BBC television show Dr. Who. The world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s work – including his famous “Sunflowers” and early masterpiece “The Potato Eaters” – can be seen at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The Impressionists with Tim Marlow (Episode 8)

The Painting Life of Vincent van Gogh

Brushstrokes: Every Picture Tells A Story (Season 1 – Episode 2 – Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear by Vincent Van Gogh)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 4 – Vincent Van Gogh:”The Starry Night”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 5 – Vincent Van Gogh:”Bedroom in Arles”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 6 – Vincent Van Gogh:”Cafe Terrace at Night”)

ReArt: Impressionism (Episode 7 – Vincent van Gogh:”Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers”)

Exhibition on Screen (Season 2 – Episode 4 – Van Gogh)

Biography (Season 2 – Episode 9 – Van Gogh)

Dr Who (Season 501 – Episode 10 – Vincent and the Doctor)

Vincent & Theo [Drama]

Vincent [Drama]

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)

Whistler is an American post-Impressionist who worked in Paris and London alongside the Impressionists in the latter half of the 19th century. He’s known for naming his paintings using musical terms (such as symphony or nocturne). Whistler’s most famous painting is “Arrangement in Gray and Black No.1” – better known as “Whistler’s Mother” – can be seen at the Musée D’Orsay in Paris. 

Great Artists with Tim Marlow (Season 2 – Episode 9)


Don’t miss the other parts of this four part series on learning art history with Amazon Prime Video:

Part One: Learning European Art History for Free with Amazon Prime Video

Part Two: Learning Pre-1850 European Art History Free with Amazon Prime Video

Part Four: Learning Modern & Postmodern Art History Free with Amazon Prime Video

Learn Art History with Amazon Prime

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