Highlights from our world-class Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection, including artworks by Morisot, Degas, Gauguin and Van Gogh.

The Impressionists aimed to capture the transience of nature, of a moment in time. Working outside ('en plein air') was a fundamental principle of Impressionism along with a need to be in tune with the contemporary world and the fleeting experiences of urban life. Impressionist artists achieved sparkling effects, not by broken tones and contrasts, but by a division of colour, applying the paint in short, fragmented brushstrokes. With its emphasis on technique over subject matter, Impressionism paved the way for modern art movements.

The term ‘Post-Impressionism’ was coined in 1910 by the British critic Roger Fry, when he included works by Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and others in an exhibition at the progressive Grafton Galleries in London. According to Fry, the Post-Impressionists were united by their emphasis on the inner world of ideas, feelings and subjectivity, rather than outer reality. This change in the artists’ work occurred around the mid- to late-1880s: while Gauguin began to emphasise the importance of painting from the imagination, Van Gogh developed a highly expressive style, using colour to explore his own, deep-seated emotions. By the early 1890s even mainstream Impressionist artists such Claude Monet began to adopt a more personal response to the natural world.

Event highlights

Find out more

Frances Fowle, Curator of French art at the National Galleries of Scotland and author of The Impressionist Era: The Story of Scotland’s French Masterpieces, introduces our display of Impressionism and Post Impressionism at the Scottish National Gallery. 


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Gallery facilities

Detailed information on accessibility at the National Galleries of Scotland

We are currently working on improving our galleries. During this time some rooms will be closed and some facilities will be temporarily removed. There will be limited disabled access to some areas.

  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Accessible toilets for gallery visitors
  • Baby change for gallery visitors
  • Toilets for gallery visitors
Getting here

Getting here

The Scottish National Gallery can be found just off Princes Street in the city centre.

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  • Open daily, 10am-5pm
The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

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Our Friends

Friends of the Galleries get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, and enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including early exhibition access, special events and 10% discount in our cafes.

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