The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
In the beginning, they were four: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899). At age 23, Sisley was the oldest, Renoir and Bazille, at age 21, the youngest. The place was Paris, the time 1862, and the four friends were students at the atelier of the famous and influential painter and teacher Charles Gleyre. Except for Sisley who, though born in France, had English parents and therefore considered himself English, all were French. Collectively they are considered the founders of French Impressionism, although the term to describe the new style had not yet been coined. That would happen only a dozen years later, in 1874, when, except for Bazille, who had been killed fighting in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, they held their first group exhibit. By the time of the last Impressionist exhibit, in 1886, the group had virtually disappeared. Monet and Renoir, believing they had exhausted the style, were looking in other, widely divergent directions for answers to their questions. Ironically, it is Sisley, the member who always rejected the term Impressionism when it was applied to his work, who alone stayed true to the group's original intentions until his death in 1899 at age 59. For this reason he is often referred to as “the only true Impressionist.”
Southgate MT. Bridge at Moret-sur-Loing. JAMA. 2006;295(24):2824. doi:10.1001/jama.295.24.2824