1881 in art
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Events from the year 1881 in art.
- April – Sixth Impressionist exhibition in Paris, at Nadar's studio.
- August 31 – English painters Thomas Cooper Gotch and Caroline Burland Yates marry at Newlyn.
- The Société des Artistes Français is established, with William-Adolphe Bouguereau as its first president.
- Vincent van Gogh returns from study in Brussels to his parents' home in Etten (Netherlands) where he produces a number of early works, including the start of his series of peasant character studies and still lifes (including Still Life with Straw Hat).
- Art Gallery of South Australia established in Adelaide.
- St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts established at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, under the direction of Halsey Ives.
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Ballads and Sonnets published.
- Lawrence Alma-Tadema
- Marie Bashkirtseff – The Studio
- Jules Bastien-Lepage – Pauvre Fauvette
- Alfred Boucher – La Piété Filiale (sculpture)
- Frank Bramley – A Hopeless Dawn
- Lady Butler – Scotland Forever!
- Paul Cézanne – Self-portrait with olive wallpaper
- Pierre Puvis de Chavannes – The Poor Fisherman (Musée d'Orsay, Paris)
- John Collier
- Charles Darwin
- Sir George Jessel
- Edgar Degas
- Stanhope Forbes – A Street in Brittany
- Atkinson Grimshaw – Shipping on the Clyde
- Ralph Hedley – John Graham Lough in His Studio
- Jean-Jacques Henner – Saint Jerome
- Max Klinger – Paraphrases about the Finding of a Glove (etchings, printed)
- Benjamin Williams Leader – February Fill Dyke
- Frederic Leighton
- Juan Luna – The Death of Cleopatra
- Édouard Manet
- Luc-Olivier Merson – Nôtre-Dame de Paris
- Hendrik Willem Mesdag – Panorama Mesdag
- Albert Joseph Moore
- Yellow Marguerites
- Giovanni Muzzioli – In the Temple of Bacchus
- Jean-François Raffaëlli – Les déclassés (The Absinthe Drinkers)
- Vinnie Ream – Admiral David G. Farragut (bronze, Washington, D.C.)
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- Ilya Repin
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Found (work finished but never completed)
- Augustus Saint-Gaudens – Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (bronze, Manhattan)
- William Stott of Oldham – Le Passeur ("The Ferry", Tate Britain)
- Henry Jones Thaddeus – La retour du bracconier (The Wounded Poacher)
- James Tissot – Goodbye, on the Mersey
- Viktor Vasnetsov
- James McNeill Whistler – Portrait of Lady Meux in two completed versions:
- Arrangement in Black, No. 5
- Harmony in Pink and Grey
- January 4 – Wilhelm Lehmbruck, German sculptor (suicide 1919)
- January 5 – Pablo Gargallo, Aragonese painter and sculptor (died 1934)
- February 4 – Fernand Léger, French painter (died 1955)
- February 11
- April 10 – William John Leech, Irish painter (died 1968)
- July 29 – Jessie Traill, Australian printmaker (died 1967)
- August 4 – Wenzel Hablik, Bohemian painter, graphic artist, designer (died 1934)
- October 25 – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, draughtsman and sculptor (died 1973)
- December 8 – Albert Gleizes, French painter (died 1953)
- December 31 – Max Pechstein, German painter (died 1955)
- uncertain – William Conor, Irish painter (died 1968)
- January 3 – Anna McNeill Whistler, "Whistler's Mother" (born 1804)
- January 24 – James Collinson, English Pre-Raphaelite painter (born 1825)
- February 9 – Jacques-Édouard Gatteaux, French sculptor and medal engraver (born 1788)
- March 11 – Thomas Brigstocke, Welsh portrait painter (born 1809)
- May 24 – Samuel Palmer, English painter, etcher and lithographer (born 1805)
- July 25 – Edward Charles Williams, English landscape painter (born 1807)
- December 13 – John Quidor, American painter (born 1801)
- December 14 – Berndt Godenhjelm, Finnish painter (born 1799)
- December 21 - Francesco Hayez, Italian historical, portrait and political painter (born 1791)