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Impressionism

Impressionism Collage
Started: 1872
Ended: 1892
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Impressionism is only direct sensation. All great painters were less or more impressionists. It is mainly a question of instinct.
Claude Monet Signature

Summary of Impressionism

Impressionism can be considered the first distinctly modern movement in painting. Developing in Paris in the 1860s, its influence spread throughout Europe and eventually the United States. Its originators were artists who rejected the official, government-sanctioned exhibitions, or salons, and were consequently shunned by powerful academic art institutions. In turning away from the fine finish and detail to which most artists of their day aspired, the Impressionists aimed to capture the momentary, sensory effect of a scene - the impression objects made on the eye in a fleeting instant. To achieve this effect, many Impressionist artists moved from the studio to the streets and countryside, painting en plein air.

Key Ideas

Key Artists

Overview of Impressionism

Detail of <i>A Bar at the Folies-Bergère</i> (1882) by Édouard Manet

Manet said: "You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real." Here he hints at the innovative thinking that went into the new way of representing the world that The Impressionist took on.

Important Art and Artists of Impressionism

Édouard Manet: Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863)

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863)

Artist: Édouard Manet

When Manet painted his Le déjeuner sur l'herbe(Luncheon on the Grass), he had already distanced himself from the tradition of Realist painting and the academic subjects of the salon. When the work was presented at the 1863 Salon des Refuses it caused an uproar due to both its aesthetic rendering and its "racy" content. The painting, which depicts the picnic of two fully clothed men and two nude women, defies the tradition of the idealized female subject of Neoclassicism in the positioning of the woman on the left who gazes frankly out at the viewer- she is confrontational, rather than passive. The thick, imprecise brushstrokes of the background, flattening of three-dimensionality, and use of unconventional subject matter influenced later Impressionists in their portrayals of the natural world and modern life.

Alfred Sisley: Fog, Voisins (1874)

Fog, Voisins (1874)

Artist: Alfred Sisley

Sisley, along with Monet, was one of the central proponents of the plein air technique, using this method in his famous paintings of the Voisins countryside, where he moved in 1871. Unlike Degas, Renoir, Cassatt, or Morisot, Sisley focused almost expressly on representations of the atmosphere while diminishing the importance of the human figure, if they appeared at all. Fog, Voisins demonstrates this general preoccupation with the visual perception of the natural world through the application of rough, clearly visible brushstrokes and the blurry, almost ethereal rendering of color and form. Here, a woman, serenely picking flowers, is almost entirely obscured within the dense fog that eclipses the pastoral scene. Like much of Sisley's work, the protagonist of the painting is nature and the visual reception of it.

Berthe Morisot: In a Park (1874)

In a Park (1874)

Artist: Berthe Morisot

A central figure of the Impressionist circle, Berthe Morisot is known for both her compelling portraits and her poignant landscapes. In a Park combines these elements of figuration with representations of nature in this serene family portrait set in a bucolic garden. Like Mary Cassatt, Morisot is recognized for her portrayals of the private sphere of female society. As in this quiet image of family life, she centered on the maternal bond between mother and child. Her loose handling of pastels, a medium embraced by the Impressionists, and visible application of color and form were central characteristics of her work.

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

"Impressionism Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 01 Feb 2012. Updated and modified regularly
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