What are the five characteristics of Impressionism?
The characteristics of Impressionism can be summed up as landscape painting in the open air (en Plein air).
These paintings were usually small, so the artist could easily carry them outside.
Generally depicting scenes of everyday life, with limited or no mixing of paint, without the use of black paint, providing a canvas of vivid color enlivened with bold brush strokes.
What is American Impressionism?
American Impressionism came about after the Civil War ended in 1865. Fortunes had been made in the War, especially in the victorious Northern Union states. These wealthy individuals and their families traveled to European cities to study European culture.
This coincided with a period of the building of grand houses and country estates in America, which their owners filled with furniture and oil paintings from Europe.
At the same time, the French and other European Impressionists began to exhibit their impressionist landscape paintings and other famous impressionist paintings in Paris. These exhibitions were visited by not just American collectors but also by young American artists.
The first reaction to this new impressionist style was shock and horror, and there was a general rejection of the new impressionist movement.
Some American artists living in Europe were less hostile to impressionism. Mary Cassatt, from Pennsylvania, had already moved to Paris to study art in 1866. It was here that she began to paint in an impressionist style.
Mary Cassatt paintings were noticed and admired by Edgar Degas, who invited her to exhibit at the 1877 exhibition of impressionist work.
John Singer Sargent, who had been born in Florence to expatriate American parents, studied art in Paris in 1874, and it was here he met Claude Monet. The latter inspired him to paint in the impressionist style.
By the mid-1880s, American collectors came to admire the French impressionist artists and began to purchase the best impressionist paintings in significant quantities.
In 1886, the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel was instrumental in promoting the French impressionist artists in the United States.
It is reputed that during his lifetime Durand-Ruel purchased some five thousand works by impressionist artists.
His collection included over 1,000 Claude Monet paintings, 1,500 Renoir works of art, and 400 paintings by both Sisley and Mary Cassatt.
In addition, he bought more than 200 Manet paintings.
Durand-Ruel's purchases have become the backbone of the world’s foremost collections of famous impressionist paintings, held in the world’s best-known museums and private collections.
Durand-Ruel went to New York, Washington, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia with a cargo of over three hundred impressionist oil paintings. He sold many of them to American collectors and dealers.
Who started American Impressionism?
It is generally considered that Mary Cassatt was the first American impressionist artist.
Cassatt had moved to Paris from her native Pittsburg in 1866 to study. Edgar Degas admired her paintings and tutored her in the impressionist style, while Manet introduced her to many of his fellow French impressionist painters.
Mary Cassatt is the only American to have been invited to exhibit her paintings with the French impressionists. Her artwork was also instrumental in introducing the paintings of the French impressionists to wealthy American patrons.
Cassatt was from a wealthy Pittsburg family and had connections to other rich Americans. She is known for her portraits, usually of upper-class American friends.
Cassatt's oil painting on canvas, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, is one of her most admired works of art.
William Merritt Chase was also an early American impressionist artist with his series of impressionist paintings of New York public parks.
Merritt Chase trained as an artist in Munich and Paris and was very familiar with the classic European style of painting. However, he became interested in impressionism after seeing the paintings of Edouard Manet.
Merritt Chase’s artwork, The Seaside, is one of his best-known oil paintings.
Which artists are considered American impressionists?
Together with Mary Cassatt, early American Impressionist painters were William Merritt Chase, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Childe Hassam, Lilla Cabot Perry, Theodore Robinson, Edmund Charles Tarbell, John Henry Twachtman, William Glackens, and J. Alden Weir, who all followed in the footsteps of the French Impressionists.
From the 1890s to the 1900’s, American1900sssionism was cultivated in a series of art colonies that flourished over the country. Most of these colonies were near large cities, so while the artists could live modestly and cheaply in the countryside, they were sufficiently near to the cities to exhibit and sell their work.
The most significant art colonies were at Cos Cob and Old Lyme, Connecticut, where many John Henry Twachtman paintings were created.
Other art colonies existed on Long Island Sound and Shinnecock, near New York City, where William Merritt Chase had a studio.
The New Hope art colony in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, and another in Boston are where Edmund Tarbell and Frank Weston Benson lived and worked.
There were also communities of American impressionists in California, in Carmel and Laguna Beach.
From these art colonies and art schools, hundreds of American impressionist artists were able to develop their individual styles and showcase their work.
Well-known works by American impressionists include The White Bridge by John Henry Twachtman.
Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam is just one of his series of Flag paintings of parades in New York City; the original oil painting forms part of the Permanent Art Collection of the White House collection.
While John Singer Sargent portraits are generally more well known, his oil painting Carnation Lily Rose is held in Tate Britain and is one of this artist's most popular oil painting reproductions.
Other well-known American Impressionist works of art include Eleanor by Frank Weston Benson, and Chez Mouquin, by William Glackens.
Why is American Impressionism important?
American impressionism is important because it represents the first time American artists had overtaken European artists in prominence and importance.
It was also the first time that an American city, New York, and to a lesser extent, Boston, became more important as an artistic center than a European city, be it Paris, Rome, Florence, or London.
Although by the 1913 Armory Show, American impressionism was in decline, and the more modern New York Ashcan School was more in favor with the public.
However, the American impressionism art movement showed the world that American artists were influential in their own right.
American impressionism gave American artists confidence not previously experienced. This newly found confidence allowed later American artists to develop new ideas and styles, notably the Abstract Expressionists, led by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning.
Discover our extensive catalog of replica paintings from well-known American impressionist artists.