The Impressionist movement was a movement started by young radical painters and rejected by most traditionalists, including the academie, until Napoleon decreed that the public should be the one to give their own opinion. Most of these painters were friends and companions and even in some cases painted together.
These artists painted in a light, bright and quite original manner, quite different form the preceding generation.
In the mid 1870’s these painters decided to do a collective exhibit, the first of the Impressionist movement. Among the participating artists were Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Pissaro, Manet and others. In total there were thirty. This was the first of eight exhibits that brought to light Impressionism.
To distinguish the best painter of the group would be difficult as all of them were among the best, and yet they were all criticized and hated for a long time.
Of all of these it could be said that Monet, Morisot, Pissaro, and Sisley are to be considered the strongest painters to adhere to the style. They worked more consistently with the show of color, sunlight, and spontaneous representations.
Other painters like Renoir left the movement after a time, and Degas focused more on drawing than on color at later times, and Edouard Manet continued to use black in his paintings which the true impressionists did not.