|Covid-19|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.
In the Tepidarium
Sappho and Alcaeus
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)
Sir George Jessel
Little Dancer of Fourteen Years (sculpture)
Trotting Horse (California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco)
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
Juan Luna – The Death of Cleopatra
Dead Eagle Owl
Luc-Olivier Merson – Nôtre-Dame de Paris
Hendrik Willem Mesdag – Panorama Mesdag
Albert Joseph Moore
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.)
Luncheon of the Boating Party
Pink and Blue
Polina Strepetova as Lizaveta
Portrait of Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Found (work finished but never completed)
Augustus Saint-Gaudens – Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (bronze, Manhattan)
Henry Jones Thaddeus – La retour du bracconier (The Wounded Poacher)
James Tissot – Goodbye, on the Mersey
Three Tsarevnas of the Underground Kingdom
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 (committed suicide 1919)
January 5 – Pablo Gargallo, Aragonese painter and sculptor (died 1934)
February 4 – Fernand Léger, French painter (died 1955)
February 11 – Carlo Carrà, Italian painter (died 1966)
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)
1881 in art Wikipedia
Events from the year 1881 in art.