The main influencers of the early days
Impressionism, although in complete opposition to the main stream art of that time, didn’t appear overnight. Several painters of the 19th century are commonly regarded as precursors of the Impressionism. Most of these painters are today represented as the Realist movement, which was actually a trend in art rather than an organized movement like the Impressionists were. Edouard Manet (1832 - 1883) was the closest influence to the Impressionists. He had a Classical art education, but he rejected most of its rules when he started his own style. His depiction of casual, contemporary scenes, his radically different technique and his research for a more natural, nearly photographic light in his painting set him appart from the Classical movement. He was hugely criticized but the starting movement of the Impressionists as well as the Realist movement recognized him as a peer. He however never endorsed the term "Impressionist". There are numerous other influences in the Impressionism like Japanese prints (for the flat colors and the daily life scenes), the Barbizon School (for the contryside views, bright colors and outdoors painting techniques), which was itself inspired by the english landscape school led by J.M. William Turner and John Constable.
DÍAZ DE LA PEÑA Narcisse Virgile, 1807-1876 (France)A clearing in the woods
HIROSHIGE Utagawa, 1797-1858 (Japan)
Man on Horseback Crossing a Bridge