1886 in art
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- April – New English Art Club mounts its first exhibition, at the Egyptian Hall, London, providing an alternative to the Royal Academy for younger artists, such as Philip Wilson Steer, under the influence of Paris.
- April 28 – Paul Cézanne marries his model and former lover Marie-Hortense Fiquet, despite having publicly stated that he has no feelings for her.
- May–June – Eighth and last collective Impressionist exhibition in Paris at 1 rue Laffitte introduces Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
- June 30 – Royal Holloway College for women, established by patent medicine manufacturer Thomas Holloway (died 1883), opened by Queen Victoria at Egham in Surrey, England, incorporating a picture gallery for which the founder has acquired a collection of predominantly modern British works; this is the first art gallery in Britain intended primarily for viewing by women.
- August 21 – September 21 – Second exhibition by the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris. Henri Rousseau exhibits for the first time and Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte causes the critic Félix Fénéon to describe the technique of pointillism and chromoluminarist style being developed by Seurat and Paul Signac as neo-impressionism.
- October 28 – Dedication of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
- P. H. Emerson publishes his first photographic book, Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads.
- Publication in French of Irish-born writer George Moore's autobiographical novel Confessions of a Young Man describing bohemian life in 1870s Paris among the Impressionists.
- Publication of Émile Zola's novel L'Œuvre based on his friendship with Paul Cézanne.
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- Ivan Aivazovsky – Storm
- Lawrence Alma-Tadema – The Apodyterium
- Frederick Brown – Hard Times
- Alexander Calandrelli – Equestrian statue of Frederick William IV (Berlin)
- Gustaf Cederström
- William Merritt Chase – Hattie
- Edgar Degas
- Lowes Cato Dickinson – The Lawn at Goodwood
- Albert Dubois-Pillet
- Nikolai Ge – Sophia and Alexandra Tolstoya
- Jean-Léon Gérôme – Bonaparte Before the Sphinx
- James Guthrie – In the Orchard
- Margaret Bernadine Hall – Fantine
- Vilhelm Hammershøi – Frederikke Hammershøi, the artist's mother
- Winslow Homer – Eight Bells
- Pierre-Georges Jeanniot – La ligne de feu, 16 août 1870
- Fernand Khnopff – The Garden
- Benjamin Williams Leader – Evening After Rain, Worcestershire
- Alexander Litovchenko – Tsar Alexis and Archbishop Nikon Venerating the Relics of Patriarch Philip
- Claude Monet
- Albert Joseph Moore – Silver
- Henry Moore – Mount's Bay
- Edvard Munch – The Sick Child
- Jean-François Raffaëlli – At the Caster's
- Georges Seurat – A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884 (Art Institute of Chicago)
- Solomon Joseph Solomon – Ajax and Cassandra
- Vincent van Gogh
- Georg von Rosen – Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld with the Vega
- George Frederick Watts – Hope
- Anders Zorn – Sommarnöje
- March 1 – Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian artist, poet and playwright (died 1980)
- March 15 – Gerda Wegener, Danish artist (died 1940)
- April 19 – Hermine David, French painter (died 1970)
- September 1 – Tarsila do Amaral, Brazilian modernist artist (died 1973)
- September 16 – Jean Arp, Alsatian artist and writer (died 1966)
- December 8 – Diego Rivera, Mexican painter and muralist (died 1957)
- Viktor Jansson, Finnish sculptor (died 1958)
- January 7 – Richard Dadd, painter (born 1817)
- April 16 – Andrew Nicholl, Irish painter (born 1804)
- May 19 – Arthur Quartley – American painter (born 1839)
- June 29 – Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli, French painter (born 1824)
- July 21 – Karl von Piloty, painter (born 1826)
- August 25 – Charles Callahan Perkins, art critic and author (born 1823)
- September 17 – Asher Brown Durand, painter of the Hudson River School (born 1796)
- September 23 – Thomas Webster, painter (born 1800)
- November 20 – William Bliss Baker, American painter (born 1859)