Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1872 (exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874)
“Impressionism is only direct sensation. All great painters were less or more impressionists. It is mainly a question of instinct.” ~ Claude Monet
Impressionism is a 19th century, distinctly modern artistic movement that swept much of the painting and sculpture styles of the period. It developed in Paris (the art capital), in the 1860s and then its influence moved onto Europe and the United States eventually.
Its originators were a group of artists, who became known as the Impressionists, who something ground breaking by rejecting the official government-sanctioned exhibitions or salons which was then the only way to exhibit your works. Claude Monet, August Renoir, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, and several other artists were the pioneers in this movement.
The Big Idea
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, to the outdoors. This clique of artists used lighter brush strokes, brighter, pure and intense colours with lesser attention to details and more bias to landscapes because they recognized that that what the eye perceived and what the brain understood were two different things. Impressionism was a style of representational art that did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions. Hence its major criticism came from critics who faulted Impressionist paintings for their unfinished appearance and seemingly amateurish quality.
The movement gained its name after the hostile French critic Louis Leroy, reviewing the first major Impressionist exhibition, seized on the title of Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1872), and accused the group of painting nothing but impressions. The Impressionists embraced the moniker and thus a revolution was born.