Who Started The Impressionist Movement?
The Impressionist movement was started by Claude Monet and included his contemporary French Impressionist painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille.
The Emperor Napoleon III had created the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Academie put on an annual art show, the Salon de Paris, and artists who displayed their paintings generally won commissions from wealthy customers who visited the Salon to see which artists were popular.
The Salon had a jury of art critics who judged the paintings and who were firmly of the opinion that the exhibited works should be very traditional in their style and form, as well as subject matter. Portraits and religious oil paintings were popular, landscapes were not.
The Impressionist artists, later joined by Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne and Armand Guillaumin, were more interested in painting landscapes and scenes from contemporary life, and in using short, sharp brush strokes with brighter colors. Their paintings were also unusual in that the entire painting was painted in the open air – en plein air- rather than being completed in the studio from sketches made outside, which was very much the practice at the time.
The Salon regularly rejected the impressionist paintings. In 1863, when the Salon had rejected Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass (Le Dejeuner sur L’herbe) because the was a nude in a contemporary scene, the Emperor Napoleon decided to establish a second Salon, the Salon des Refuses ( the Salon of the Rejected) so that the public could be the judges of the work they saw. This new Salon brought the new form of art, Impressionist art, to the direct attention of the public and more visitors came to see the Impressionist paintings than the paintings in the traditional Salon itself.
What Is The Impressionist Movement?
The Impressionist artists rejected the previously held beliefs in what should be the form and structure of paintings.
Impressionist art rejected historical subjects, religious subjects, and traditional portraits, using small and precise brush strokes in muted colors that hide the work of the artist. The Impressionists favored landscapes and still life paintings, with bold and very visible brush strokes that captured the effects of sunlight.
In early 1874 this group of French artists formed a Society of Artists and arranged an exhibition in the studio of their friend the photographer Nadar. One painting exhibited was Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, painted in 1872, and from that title the Impressionist Movement took its name. Exhibiting works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley and female impressionist Berthe Morisot, over two hundred paintings were on view. The French public had never seen an independent avant-guard art exhibition of this scale before, and was very taken with this new and very different style of painting. Over four thousand people attended the exhibition.
From 1875 to 1886 there were seven more of these exhibitions organized and the Impressionist movement spread around the world.
In 1886, Monet’s art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel was instrumental in promoting the Impressionist artists in the United States and is reputed to have purchased, in his lifetime, some five thousand works by Impressionist artists, including over one thousand Monet’s, one thousand five hundred Renoirs, four hundred paintings by both Sisley and Mary Cassatt, and over two hundred works by Manet. These purchases have become the backbone of the world’s major collections of famous Impressionist paintings, in the world’s best known museums.
Durand-Ruel became a friend of the artists and would help them when they were without money and Monet is quoted as saying late in his life that “We would have all died of hunger without Durand-Ruel, all we impressionists”.
Durand-Ruel went to Washington, Cincinnati and Philadelphia with a cargo of over three hundred impressionist paintings. He sold many of them to American collectors and dealers. This encouraged the American Impressionist painters William Merritt Chase, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Childe Hassam, Lilla Cabot Perry, Theodore Robinson, Edmund Charles Tarbell, John Henry Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir to follow in the footsteps of the French Impressionists to create some of the greatest America art of the period.
What is Impressionist Art and En Plein Air painting?
Impressionist art is the use of bold color, bold brush strokes and the use of light made achievable by painting in the outdoors, known as en plein air painting. Subject matter was necessarily landscapes and cityscapes, but frequently with figures and animals present, often blending the background of the painting to the main subject matter so that the effect was to create a snapshot of a moment in time. Subject matter also included scenes from everyday life, with the Impressionists Degas and Renoir famously painting subjects of dance halls, theatres, cafes and restaurants in Paris. Photography was becoming popular and the Impressionists used their paintings to show that works of art could compete with photographs in that a painting could create an impression of mood and light that a photograph could not. Impressionist painters painted their perceptions of nature and daily life, whereas the photograph was an exact representation of its subject.
The American artist John Rand was key in the development of Impressionist art. Living in London, in 1841 he invented paint in a tube. This allowed the Impressionists to pre-mix their paint and take it with them outdoors, with brushes and easel, creating a practical solution to the en plein air style.
Impressionist art was the most significant change in art style in modern history and from impressionism sprang the post-impressionist movement led by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat and the pointillists, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. This led to later art movements, Cubism and Expressionism for example, all coming from the Impressionist split from the Classical style of painting that had dominated art over the previous centuries.
What Is The Impressionist Style?
While it is generally considered by art historians that Claude Monet paintings were leading the way for Impressionist painters, in fact his work had been influenced by previous French and English painters who had come before.
Gustave Courbet, a realist painter, the romantic artist Eugene Delacroix, and the Barbizon school artists such as Theodore Rousseau all contributed to the development of what became Impressionism.
The English artist J.W.M. Turner was also an influence and his great work The Fighting Temeraire from 1839 shows many similarities in its style and composition to Monet’s Impression, Sunrise from 1872.
Painting techniques used by the Impressionists include short, thick brush stokes that create the impression of the subject, rather than precise details, with heavy use of paint as can been seen very well in Monet’s paintings, known as the impasto technique.
Dark tones were created by mixing paint and black paint was almost never used. Wet paint was applied to already wet paint to create a blend of colors and a softening of the edges creating a blurred effect between the areas of canvas. Paint was applied to a white or very light colored background in direct contravention of the previously established method of applying paint to a dark or black background, as can be seen in most religious paintings and portraits from previous centuries.
In addition to the tubes of paint that John Rand had invented, various synthetic paints were becoming available, notably cobalt blue, ultramarine, cerulean blue, viridian and cadmium yellow, all of which new colors were embraced by the impressionist palette. These new colors in turn allowed an even brighter painting, with the new blue colors allowing a more vivid sky, in particular.
Which Painter Achieved The Purest Impressionistic Style?
Claude Monet artworks and the Water Lilies paintings by Monet are considered to be the purest form of Impressionism. Monet’ many paintings of the same subject, notably water lilies, but also haystacks, bridges in London, scenes of Venice, rocky coastlines, poplar trees, and the paintings of his garden in both Argenteuil and Giverny at different times of the day and exhibiting different colors, light and shade, are considered as the epitome of Impressionism and what it stood for as an art movement.
Degas’s many paintings of dancers at the ballet, and Pierre–Auguste Renoir’s masterpieces Dance at the Moulin de las Galette and Luncheon of the Boating Party, are all very typical of the urban Impressionist works, and representative of Impressionism.
Famous Impressionist Paintings
The water lily paintings by Claude Monet are the most recognizable Impressionist paintings and Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies 1899, held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is one of the most famous.
Water Lilies 1916, held by the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan is another masterpiece by Monet in his series of water lily paintings, with his brushstrokes almost achieving an expressionist feel.
Monet’s Impression, Sunrise must feature as the most important Impressionist painting, having given its name to the Impressionist Movement.
Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party is another iconic Impressionist painting, from 1881, and held by the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. One of the many paintings purchased by the dealer Durand-Ruel directly from Renoir, the wealthy industrialist acquired the painting in 1923. The characters in the painting are also portraits of Renoir’s friends, the artist Gustave Caillebotte, the owner of the restaurant’s daughter and her brother, and Aline Charigot, who became Renoir’s wife, as well as other notable figures of the day.
A Bar at the Folies-Bergere painted in 1881 by Edouard Manet, the year before he died, is another iconic painting of the Impressionist movement. The Folies-Bergere was the most popular music hall in Paris and Manet went there frequently to sketch, although this painting was completed entirely in his studio, with the barmaid Suzon coming to the studio to sit for Manet to paint, as the centerpiece of the canvas. The painting is considered to be one of Manet’s best works and is held by the Courtauld Gallery in London.
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