Impressionism

The art movement known as Impressionism draws its name from a popular work by which artist?

And the answer: Claude Monet.      

Claude Monet was a 19th century French artist who is largely considered to be the father of Impressionist art. His painting "Impression, Sunrise" (in French: "Impression, soleil levant") was displayed at an 1874 salon, where it was disparagingly referred to as "impressionistic." The term was soon enthusiastically adapted to refer to the budding artistic movement.

Impression, soleil levant ("Impression, Sunrise") painting by Claude Monet. Image source: ImpressionistArts.com.

When Impressionist paintings are presented in museums today, their legitimacy and beauty are rarely questioned. In fact, many Impressionist paintings sell at auction for millions of dollars. However, in 19th century France, this was hardly the case. Many art connoisseurs and fellow artists alike saw the paintings as slapdash, unfinished or even lowbrow works of art. In the changing landscape of art history, it's often difficult to understand the powerful, even shocking, contributions of the Impressionist movement to the art sensibilities of the time period. Yet its effects are inescapable.

Photo Credit: Princeton University Art Museum/Art Resource, NY.

Unlike the slow, studio-based approach that held sway at the French salons of the Royal Academie, Impressionist works were begun and completed entirely outdoors. Artists used smaller canvases, experimented with style and technique, and primarily worked on landscape paintings, a type of "genre" painting which was often looked down upon in academic circles. At this time in France, the Academie revered the study of Ancient Greek and Roman art – strongly defined figures, historical leaders and mythology were all subjects deemed worthy of portrayal.

But Impressionism refused this. In 1874, Impressionist artists organized their own Salon, one decorated exclusively with Impressionist works. The budding movement was spurred by a fading interest in the outdated traditions of the French Academie and a need to depict the movement of the present. With this exhibition, Impressionism began to flourish.

Learn more about Impressionism below.


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