A French term for "in the open air." This term describes paintings that have been made outdoors, rather than in a studio. Studio painting was normal practice until the early 1800s, when English painters Richard Parks Bonington and John Constable began making sketches and complete works outdoors. American Romantics adopted this approach, which was also a key method of the Impressionists (such as Claude Monet, who made this painting). The popularity of plein air painting increased as portable painting equipment and materials, such as paint sold in tubes, became widely available.
Another term for painting outdoors is the Italian word alfresco.