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En Plein Air

Henri Matisse
Open Window, Collioure, 1905
Oil on canvas
Overall: 55.3 x 46 cm (21.8 x 18.1 in.)
Framed: 71.1 x 62.2 x 5.1 cm (28 x 24.5 x 2 in.)
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The practice of 'En Plein Air' painting, which involves painting outdoors rather than in a studio, has a rich history in the art world. Some of the most famous artists of the Impressionist era, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro, were known for their dedication to painting en plein air. They sought to capture the fleeting effects of light on a landscape in a way that was immediate and spontaneous. This approach to painting allowed for experimentation with new techniques and color combinations and was made possible by the development of portable easels, paint tubes, and other materials that made it easier for artists to work outside.

The popularity of painting outdoors grew rapidly in the 19th century, and Post-Impressionists and Fauvists also embraced this method. The influence of en plein air can be seen in the works of some of the most notable artists of the time, including Paul Cézanne's La Montagne Sainte-Victoire series (1839-1906), Vincent van Gogh's The Sower (1888), and Henri Matisse's Open Window, Collioure (1905).

Even today, the practice of en plein air painting continues to inspire and influence artists across the globe. Korean artist Hyein Lee, for example, uses this method to represent the whole moment and condition of working outdoors, rather than simply depicting the landscape in front of her. By pushing the boundaries of this traditional style, contemporary artists are able to create works that are innovative, stimulating and meaningful.

Related categories


Land Art

Landscape Painting




Human and Nature

(Inspired by) Nature



20th Century Art

Surrounding Environment

Oil Paint

19th Century Art

Riverscape / Seascape

Modern European Art