Art History and Artists
Impressionism began in France when a group of young and talented artists decided to rebel against the established art critics, called the Salon in France, and form a new style of painting all their own. Impressionists wanted to capture a moment in time. Critics said that their work was merely "impressions" of reality and the name stuck.
When was the Impressionist style of art popular?
The Impressionist movement began in the 1860s and became most popular in the 1870s and 1880s.
What are the characteristics of Impressionism?
The Impressionists wanted to capture a moment in time. They were more concerned with the light and color of the moment than with the details of objects they were painting. They often painted outdoors and worked quickly to capture the light before it changed. They used rapid brush strokes and often used unmixed color to save time. They used unusual visual angles and common everyday subjects.
Examples of Impressionist Art
Dance at Le moulin de la Galette (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)
This painting depicts an outdoor scene of a dance on Sunday afternoon in Paris. Renoir captures the afternoon light flickering as it filters through the trees. The painting captures a moment in time. It is one of the most famous of the Impressionist paintings. A smaller version of it once sold for over $78 million!
Lydia Leaning on Her Arms in a Theatre Box (Mary Cassatt)
This painting is an example of an Impressionist portrait. The quick and sweeping brush strokes capture the moment of the girl leaning forward in anticipation at the opera. The girl, Lydia, appears relaxed and confident. The colors are bright and capture the lighting prior to the show beginning.
Paris Street: Rainy Day (Gustave Caillebotte)
This Impressionist painting gives the feeling of a photograph. It appears to capture people as they are casually walking down the street in the rain. Although this painting has sharper images than many impressionist paintings, it still captures a fleeting moment in time including the light and the weather conditions.
Famous Impressionist Artists
- Gustave Caillebotte - A French painter who was interested in photography and probably was the most "realist" of the Impressionist group. Caillebotte came from a wealthy family and helped out some of the poorer artists of the time.
- Mary Cassatt - An American painter who lived much of her life in France, Mary became good friends with Degas. She often painted women and their children.
- Edgar Degas - Degas is famous for painting pictures of ballet dancers. Unlike many of the other Impressionist artists, he would sketch his subjects live and then paint them later in his studio.
- Edouard Manet - A realist painter for much of his career, Manet's artwork bridged between Realism and Impressionism and gave the Impressionists credibility.
- Claude Monet - Arguably the founder of the Impressionist movement, Monet painted many series of objects in different lighting. It was his painting, Impression: Sunrise that gave birth to the name Impressionism.
- Berthe Morisot - One of the original Impressionists, Berthe was the only woman to display her artwork in the first Impressionist exhibition.
- Camille Pissarro - Older than the rest of the Impressionists, Pissarro helped to mentor and lead the younger artists. He displayed artwork in all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions.
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Part of the original group of Impressionists, Renoir lived in poverty early on, but became successful by the end of the 1880s. Many of his paintings such as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette and On the Terrace have become world famous.
- When a critic called the art "impressions", it was meant as in insult.
- The established art community was outraged when the young Impressionist artists held their own exhibition in 1874.
- Many of the artists fled from France to England during the Franco-Prussian war.
- Impressionists often painted the same view or subject over and over trying to capture different moments in light, color, and time.
- By the late 1880's Impressionism was very popular and many artists throughout the world were taking up the style.
History >> Art History