Impressionism

Impressionism is an art movement distinguished by relatively small thin brushstrokes, open configuration, emphasis on accurate representation of light and its changing qualities, everyday subject matter, and the involvement of movement which is an important element of human perception and experience. Impressionism emerged from a group of Paris based artists who faced severe opposition from the traditional art community in France. Some impressionist artist include, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. These artists independent showcases brought them into fame during the 1870s and 1880s.

Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1906) (Oil on canvas)
La Grenouillere (“The Frog Pond”) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1869) (Oil on canvas)
Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) (Oil on canvas)

Many of these impressionist artists violated the rules of academic painting which is a style of painting and sculpture produced under the influence of European academies of art. Instead their pictures were created from freely brushed colors that took precedence over lines and contours. The Impressionists also found that they could capture the momentary and transient effects of sunlight by painting outdoors or also called en plein air.

Foyer de la Danse by Edgar Degas (1872) (Oil on canvas)
Jeanne Holding a Fan by Camille Pissarro (1874) (Oil on canvas)

In my opinion, I believe that Impressionism is the most beautiful and most relatable form of art. Impressionism is also one of my favorite forms of art. The detailed brushstrokes, the colors, the representation of light and its changing qualities, and their depiction of everyday subject matter, is what makes Impressionism so beautiful. The thing that I like most about Impressionism is that it is painted in real time. Impressionists didn’t just paint random objects or people, they painted life around them, the people they saw/knew, the places they went and their own personal lives. We get a glimpse of what these artists saw and experienced through their eyes and I think that is incredible. Just look at Camille Pissarro’s, Jeanne Holding a Fan, the painting depicts his youngest daughter Jeanne-Rachel who died of tuberculosis at the age of eight. It was painted a few months before she died and depicts her sitting inside near a stove rather than her being a healthy child playing outside. If he were to have painted in another style I don’t think he would’ve been able to capture that moment with his daughter as well, but the impressionist style allows us to really see what he saw.

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