academic (adj)
conforming to standards, traditions, or conventions promoted by an academy or school of higher learning. During the Impressionist period, the term referred specifically to France’s Academy of Fine Arts, which encouraged students to paint classical or biblical subjects in a highly detailed style. Students trained at the Academy drew from plaster casts, progressing slowly to painting live models in poses, and finally to creating compositions based on classical sources and the work of Old Masters.

asymmetrical (adj)
not identical on both sides of a central line; lacking conventional balance or symmetry

avant-garde (adj)
unconventional or experimental; ahead of its time; often used to describe progressive art, music, or literature

background (n)
the part of a painting or drawing representing the space behind the figures or objects close to the viewer (in the foreground)

Ben-Day process (n)
named for New York printer Benjamin Day (1838–1916), a process for adding tone or shading by overlaying patterns, usually dots, onto the plate; used in printing comic strips

Bonaparte, Louis Napoléon (Napoléon III) (1808–1873)
French president from 1848 to 1852 and emperor from 1852 to 1870. He gave France two decades of prosperity under a stable and authoritarian government known as the Second Empire but finally led it to defeat in the Franco-German War (1870–71), which forced many Impressionists to leave Paris.

cholera (n)
an acute, infectious, often fatal disease found in India, China, and occasionally elsewhere (such as France during the late 19th century), characterized by profuse diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and dehydration

composition (n)
the arrangement of elements such as shape, space, and color in a work of art

Cubism (n)
the early-20th-century art movement led by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) and Georges Braque (1882–1963) that used abstract, fragmented shapes to depict several views of the same subject simultaneously, emphasizing the basic geometry or structure of the subject

draftsman (n)
an artist exceptionally skilled in drawing

easel painting (n)
a small painting on canvas, often executed on an easel and usually intended to be framed and hung on a wall, although it may be displayed on the easel

expressionistic (adj)
a type of art that seeks to convey emotion through distortions of color, shape, and space

festoon (n)
a decorative strip or chain suspended in a curve between two points

formalist (adj)
showing marked attention to style or form rather than the imitation of actual appearances. Formalist art is usually flat and two-dimensional and emphasizes abstract shapes.

foreground (n)
the objects or figures situated in the front of a composition, intended to exist close to the viewer (as opposed to background)

Haussmann, George-Eugène, Baron (1809–1891)
French administrator who transformed Paris during the mid-19th century, turning a mass of small streets into a space marked by wide, straight, tree-lined avenues. Haussmann’s city planning also opened up parks, increased the number of streetlights and sidewalks, and gave rise to the sidewalk cafés enjoyed and portrayed by the Impressionists. There were three motives behind the planning effort: to promote industrialization by enabling goods and services to be transported more efficiently, to beautify the city, and to prevent rebellion by eliminating the narrow streets where barricades could be erected.

high-keyed (adj)
a term referring to bright colors free of gray, black, or dark hues; colors that approximate the range of colors seen on a sunny day

horizon line (n)
the horizontal line in a work of art that forms the apparent boundary between earth and sky

Impressionism (n)/ Impressionist (adj)
progressive art movement that originated in France in the late 19th century. Impressionist painters wanted to capture the rapidly changing modern world and the fleeting moods of nature. Impressionism relied on optical blending to depict the fluctuations of light and consisted largely of views of everyday middle-class life in the city and countryside of France.

landscape (n)
an image representing a portion of the natural scenery, usually from a distant viewpoint

marine (adj)
of or pertaining to the sea

middle ground (n)
the portion of picture space that is behind the foreground but in front of the background

milliner (n)/ millinery (n)
one who designs, sells, or makes women’s hats; the business or trade of a milliner

motif (n)
a distinctive and often repeated pattern or image in a work of art

optical (adj)
of or pertaining to sight or vision; visual

orthogonal line (n)
in linear perspective, a diagonal line drawn to a vanishing point

palette (n)
the range of colors used by a particular artist or in a particular work

panorama (n)
an extended landscape or other scene, often displayed as an unobstructed view in every direction. Panoramas were a popular art form in the 19th century.

perspective (n)
scientific method used by artists to represent three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional surfaces. Linear perspective uses vanishing points and orthogonals to make objects seem as if they are receding in space. Some maintain that a crude form of linear perspective was introduced by the Romans, refined by Islamic artists in the middle ages, and rediscovered by Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi in the 15th century.

Pointillism (n)
a theory and technique of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance, they blend together; also called Neoimpressionism or Divisionism

porcelain (n)
a hard, fine-grained, translucent and white ceramic ware produced by firing fine white clay (kaolin) at high temperatures

Post-Impressionism (n)/ Post-Impressionist (adj)
the French artistic style that followed Impressionism. Such artists as Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec pushed beyond the Impressionist emphasis on the appearance of nature, stressing instead qualities such as emotional expression and the formal structure of underlying objects. Post-Impressionism led to a variety of bold new styles, including innovative uses of color and brushwork that sometimes bordered on abstraction.

Salon (n)
official exhibition of art sponsored by the Academy of Fine Arts in France and held almost once every year from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Until challenged by the Impressionist exhibitions beginning in 1874, the Salon was the main venue for artists to exhibit their work, receive recognition, and make sales.

Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused) (n)
the 1863 art exhibition held in Paris by order of Napoleon III for artists whose work had been rejected by the official Salon

scale (n)
the relative size of one object in relation to another object

still life (n)
a depiction of a group of inanimate objects, such as flowers or fruit, usually arranged by an artist

style (n)
a distinctive manner of expression (as in writing, speech, or art)

vanishing point (n)
in perspective, the point at which receding parallel lines appear to converge. The vanishing point is often on the horizon line.

wet-nurse (n)
a woman hired to breastfeed and give constant care to another woman’s infant

woodblock print (n)
a print made from a block of wood that has been engraved, inked, and printed