1. Home
  2. Exhibitions & activities
  3. Exhibitions
  4. Impressionism on the Seine


Around 50 canvases traced the birth and development of Impressionism, from Monet to Renoir and Matisse, evoking the passage of the seasons, river and port activities, people relaxing by the Seine, and the places where artists stayed. This exhibition was organised as part of the first Festival Normandie Impressionniste.

The Seine, an industrial landscape

The first section of the exhibition was devoted to pre-Impressionist artists. It showed the Seine from Le Havre to Paris as depicted by Camille Corot, Stanislas Lépine, Eugène Boudin (//lien interne page découvrez l’impressionnisme Eugène boudin), as well as Claude Monet (//lien interne page découvrez l’impressionnisme Claude Monet), Renoir, Sisley and Pissarro before 1874.

The second section illustrated the construction and economic activities linked to the river. In the second half of the 19th century, the landscape along the Seine was being transformed as a result of industrialisation. Although traditional activities, those of the boat-haulers and washerwomen, for example, continued to exist, the big ports – Le Havre, Rouen and Paris – were being modernised. Metal bridges, cranes and factory smokestacks were springing up along the riverbanks and the young Impressionist painters eagerly painted this new landscape.

Cafés, boatmen and aquatic fun

A corollary of industrialisation, leisure pursuits also flourished and they too transformed the appearance of the riverbanks. Sunday strolls, picnic lunches, bathing, boating and regattas became fashionable. Following in the wake of England, France discovered the joys of watersports. Cafés, restaurants and places of pleasure attracted fashionable city-dwellers. With their boatsmen, bright dresses and colourful parasols, they were now part of the landscape of the Seine Valley. Impressionist painters captured this hedonistic world, and La Grenouillère, the Fournaise restaurant and the Île de la Grande Jatte quickly became famous places in the history of painting.

Artists’ retreats

Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Caillebotte (//lien interne page découvrez l’impressionnisme Gustave Caillebotte), Berthe Morisot, Signac, Luce and Bonnard all lived by the Seine. For Claude Monet, it was the only place he chose to live. He moved to Argenteuil in 1871, then Vétheuil in 1878 and Poissy in 1881, before settling for good in Giverny in 1883.

Intense colours: a Fauve vision of the Seine

The exhibition ended with a selection of Fauve works, because Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck and Othon Friesz also discovered their first inspirational subjects near the river, before celebrating the more dazzling light of the South.

This exhibition was enriched with exceptional loans from the Musée d’Orsay and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Exhibition organised as part of the first Festival Normandie Impressionniste.

In video

Watch the exhibition video (in French)

In pictures

Artworks in focus

Auguste Renoir, Les Canotiers à Chatou

  • Auguste Renoir
  • Les Canotiers à Chatou, 1879.
  • Huile sur toile, 81,2 x 100,2 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington don de Sam A. Lewisohn 1951.5.2

Gustave Caillebotte, Partie de bateau, dit Canotier au chapeau haut de forme

  • Gustave Caillebotte
  • artie de bateau, dit Canotier au chapeau haut de forme, Vers 1877-1878.
  • Huile sur toile, 90 x 117 cm. Collection particulière

Georges Seurat, La Seine à Courbevoie

  • Georges Seurat
  • La Seine à Courbevoie, 1885.
  • Huile sur toile, 81,4 x 65,2 cm. Collection particulière

Claude Monet, Argenteuil

  • Claude Monet
  • Argenteuil, 1875.
  • Huile sur toile, 56 x 67 cm. Paris, musée de l’Orangerie, RF 1963-106


Enrichissez votre visite

Tous les documents utiles en téléchargement direct.

Nos mécènes et partenaires

Le musée remercie vivement les mécènes et partenaires de cette exposition.

Partenaires médias

Découvrez l’impressionnisme

Le musée vous propose de découvrir les multiples facettes de l’impressionnisme.

Si vous passiez par la boutique ?

Découvrez la collection d’articles du musée dédiés à nos expositions et aussi de nombreux autres cadeaux liés à notre collection.