Impressionists on the Water

By Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Charles, Phillip Dennis Cate, and Gilles Chardeau

The Impressionists, widely celebrated for their vibrant and light-infused depictions of nature, extended their colorful artistic vocabularies to water, boats, and all things nautical. This handsome new volume, coinciding with a major exhibition organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, traces the history of these delightful water scenes within the social context of the late nineteenth century.

Impressionists on the Water, lavishly illustrated with exemplary works by all of the principal artists of the period, examines the changing themes of water and boating from pre-Impressionism (Corot, Daubigny), through Impressionism (Caillebotte, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir), to neo- and post-Impressionism (Seurat, Signac). Three essays illuminate the historical and cultural aspects of the nautical themes embraced by the Impressionists, including their connections to contemporary life, leisure, and technology. A chronology of Caillebotte’s boating life adds definition to one of the movement’s most active yachtsmen, and illustrated sidebars provide intriguing details of some of the movement’s key paintings.

Replete with depictions of rowing, yachting, and sailing on rivers and at sea, this elegantly designed book offers copious views of the boatyards, clubs, and regattas frequented by these artists. A brilliant synthesis of boating and aesthetics, it will be cherished by water enthusiasts and scholars and connoisseurs of one of the most beloved periods in art history.


Christopher Lloyd specializes in the art of the Italian Renaissance, French Impressionism, and British painting. He was a curator in the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University for twenty years before becoming Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures from 1988 to 2005.

Daniel Charles, a historian of innovation and technology, is the senior expert for maritime heritage for the French Ministry of Culture. He has published many books, including an award-winning biography of Gustave Caillebotte.

Phillip Dennis Cate, former director and founder of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey, is a specialist in nineteenth-century French art. Recent exhibitions and publications include Autour du chat noir: Arts et plaisirs à Montmartre, 1889–1910 (Skira Flammarion, 2012) and Breaking the Mold: Sculpture in Paris from Daumier to Rodin (Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, 2006).

Gilles Chardeau is the president of the Caillebotte Committee, which he founded in 1994. He has collaborated on numerous Caillebotte exhibitions and publications.

Latest publications