The Impressionists, whose epilogue reads as tragic irony considering the astronomical sums their paintings fetch today, dramatically come to life as men interacting with each other, opposed to their times, in a revealing and cohesive investigation of their lives and art. Separate biographical sketches of the outstanding representatives- Manet, Degas, Pissarro, Monet and Renoir, cover their early years and lead into the famous association of landscape artists, innovators, who took their canvases from the studio out into the open air. The growing esprit de corps with Manet and Degas reached a pinnacle in the post war decade, from 1872 -- 1882, a time which demanded a break with romanticism. Their binding philosophies -- truth of vision, the desire to capture a particular moment in time, the reflection of beauty in the common people, the replacement of imagination for observation, the revolution against the studied pose -- led to a stormy collaboration in three major exhibitions, each a public fiasco and an affront to Salon standards. The disagreements among them in personality and goal, their various minor successes, and more often, heartbreaking failures, the stylistic influences on each other and their final disintegration as a group are illuminated enthusiastically and with perception by a team well known for their established work in the field of popular art appreciation.