Oil painting of a hill-top town on a clear sunny day

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Avignon from the West, 1836

Look at Corot’s Avignon from the West and see the clouds and their shadows create the sense of gentle wind. The painting is a direct depiction of nature and human habitation in harmony. The viewer can almost feel the sun and smell the vegetation.

Think about how the softened foreground and atmospheric background, with the pale faraway hills, create a ‘sandwich’ effect. The centre of the painting glows, capturing our attention with the sandy highlights and building details.

Oil painting of a landscape with a rocky formation in front of a small farmstead and a hillside covered in fields.

Paul Cézanne, Hillside in Provence, 1890–92

Look at the ‘building blocks’ in this landscape. Cézanne seems to be analysing the structures of the rocks rather than focusing on the surface of the hillside.

Think about how this approach varies from the picturesque landscapes from earlier periods.

A painting of a well dressed young woman sitting in a crowded theatre.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, At the Theatre [La Première Sortie], 1876–77

Look at Renoir’s painting and the sort of brushstrokes he used to capture the scene.

Think about artists roaming the popular haunts of big cities such as Paris in the late 19th century, and how exciting it would have been to try to quickly capture the bustling urban life.

A painting of four ballerinas stretching in an undefined studio space.

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers, c. 1890–1900

Look at this image by Degas of a ballet rehearsal. Degas did many paintings and sketches of this subject matter. Why do you think Degas was interested in the training rather than the final performance?

Think about how Degas has used paint to create a sense of movement in this oil sketch of ballet dancers. See how the canvas support has not been covered by the paint and shows through in many places. Artists developed a new style of painting to capture the increasing speed of modern life.

A painting of an eclectic bunch of flowers in a vase

Paul Gauguin, A Vase of Flowers, 1896

Look at the vibrant colours in Gauguin’s flower painting. Can you identify the main colours? Can you find any black paint?

Think about how the colours are used and how a cool colour often is placed adjacent to a warm colour.

Oil painting of a vase of yellow sunflowers

Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888

Look at Van Gogh’s painting of sunflowers and notice how the various flowers depicted are in different stages of the plant’s lifecycle.

Think about the effects of colour in this painting with the different shades of yellow and the tonal contrasts of the green and blue. Van Gogh painted this to decorate the guest room for his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin to stay in.

An oil painting of a bridge over a pond covered in water lilies.

Claude Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899

Look at Monet’s painting of a Japanese bridge in the garden he built in France. Can you decide what Monet is primarily interested in? Is it the scene in front of him or light and colour?

Think about what sort of brushstrokes Monet used to create the image. What words would you use to describe those brushstrokes?