Post impressionism is a term that was initially used to refer to the styles that were developed during the last two decades of the 19th century by French painters such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Seurat, and Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The term post impressionist was coined by English artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910 after many of the artists had died; none of them ever heard the term or used it themselves.

Post impressionism does not refer to a single style, technique or even approach to painting. The most famous post impressionists all developed their styles independently, yet all were united in their rejection of impressionism. In the work of Van Gogh and Gauguin we see bold, intense colors and very expressive work while the works of Cezanne seemed concerned with structure and Seurat with the systematic use of color dots, pointillism. All of these artists were familiar with and shaped by the Impressionism movement but did not ascribe to the movement and took their paintings in different directions breaking away from the naturalism used by impressionists.

Impressionism recorded nature in terms of light and color. Post impressionists rejected these limitations and instead sought to be more expressive. They were not concerned with depicting the effects of light and other visual effects like those seen in the impressionism movement, they were less idyllic. They wanted to express their meaning beyond the surface appearance; they painted with emotion, intellect, and the eye. The post-impressionism painters stressed their personal view of the visual world and had a freely expressive use of color and form to describe emotions and movement.

Post impressionism led the way to cubism and fauvism in the early 20th century.