Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Artists and Paintings. Everything You Need to Know About Impressionism

Edgar Degas, Dancer with Tambourine, 1897, private collection. Art-Degas.

Art History 101

Artists and Paintings. Everything You Need to Know About Impressionism

Impressionism has become one of the most significant movements of modern art. The names of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, or Edgar Degas are well-known, perhaps, even by those who are not very interested in art. There are big queues to view their paintings in museums. And there are even bigger ones to buy their paintings at auctions. Why does Impressionism still resonate with people today? We have gathered everything you need to know to understand Impressionism.

Before Impressionism

Eugene Delacroix was one of the artists that influenced the Impressionists. He was one of the first artists to realize that colors, applied with individual unmixed strokes, can more intensely convey the dynamics of the depicted moment. Besides using contrasting colors, he also tended to believe that a painting’s plot should resonate with modern life.

The painting of Eugene Delacroix "Liberty Leading the People", 1830. It portrays Liberty as both an allegorical goddess-figure and a robust woman of the people.
Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830, Louvre, Paris, France.
Read more about this painting here.

Even though Delacroix’s painting, Liberty Leading the People, 1830, is a masterpiece of Romanticism this did not stop it from becoming a precursor of Impressionism. The painting contained almost all of the features that in forty years time would become the main principles of Impressionism, including – the lack of classic clean lines; the use of vibrant colors; the dynamic brush strokes; and the new ways of exploring and recreating the play of light on the canvas.

However, the fundamental difference between Liberty Leading the People and the artworks of Impressionism is that the plot of the painting is made-up. The Impressionists aimed to depict reality and only true stories. They wanted to recreate on their canvases the life that takes place in the here and now.


The art of Gustave Courbet also had an influence on the Impressionists. He admired Delacroix, but he wanted to depict ordinary objects, and real things. He wanted realism – frank and imperfect.

The painting of Gustave Courbet, Woman with white stockings, 1861. It portrays half-seated nude female in the provocative pose. impressionism
Gustave Courbet, Woman with white stockings, 1861, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

The artist who best summarized the heritage of Delacroix and Courbet was Edouard Manet. He became the first “artist of modern life”, and inspired a group of young artists who had been rejected by the Academy. These artists united in the first movement of truly modern art – Impressionism. Manet became a rebel of the Academy, although he did not want to, and led a group of dissident artists.

The painting of Edouard Manet, Music in the Tuileries Garden, 1862. impressionism
Edouard Manet, Music in the Tuileries Garden, 1862, National Gallery, London, UK.

The evolution of the movement and its features


The center of the new art movement, was Paris in the second half of the 19th century. After their unsuccessful attempts to be admitted to the Academy, in 1863, they organized an event opposite the Academy Salon, for Impressionist artists (although they were not called that then).

Its organization was facilitated by Napoleon III himself. Of course, not out of kindness, but for political motives. It was due to him that the unappreciated artists got a platform to demonstrate their artworks. Aside from that, it was a clear signal that there was an alternative to the stale art of the Academy. The exhibition was called the “Salon des Refuses”, which means “Exhibition of Rejects”. It did not impress ordinary visitors but did fill the young artists with new ideas.

The painting of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Reclining Nude, ca. 1860. It portrays reclined nude woman. impressionism
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Reclining Nude, ca. 1860, private collection. Wikipedia.

Thirty artists gathered for the first exhibition of the Impressionists, which was called the “Anonymous Society of Artists, Sculptors, Engravers, and Others”. It took place on 15 April, 1874, at 35 Boulevard Capuchin, in Paris. There was no selection panel, and anyone who paid the fee could take part.

The painting of Edgar Degas, Musicians in the Orchestra, 1872. It portrays musicians behind which ones are ballerinas on the stage. impressionism
Edgar Degas, Musicians in the Orchestra, 1872, Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany.

Reviews of this innovative style were unfavorable. The critic Louis Leroy, published a devastating critique of the exhibition in the newspaper Le Charivari. He also,unintentionally, provided the name for the new movement and also described its key features in his criticism.

The painting of Camille Pissarro, Bridge at Montfoucault, 1874. It portrays a bright landscape. impressionism
Camille Pissarro, Bridge at Montfoucault, 1874, private collection. Wikipedia.

Key Impressionists


The key Impressionists include Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Edgar Degas, to name but a few.

The painting of Alfred Sisley, Thames at Hampton Court, 1874. It portrays a bright landscape.
Alfred Sisley, Thames at Hampton Court, 1874, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, USA.

The principles of Impressionism

The main features of Impressionism include:

– a true picture of modern scenes from life;
– use of vivid natural colors;
– a desire to convey the ephemerality of the moment, movement, emotion, dynamics, and form an impression on the audience;
– giving preference to the play of light over the accuracy of the image;
– painting outside, not in the studio, to accurately convey light effects; consequently, the plots were mostly not staged;
– the plots were modern, urban, casual, bourgeois;
– the use of dynamic strokes, in which colors are not mixed.

Over time, Impressionism became more and more popular until it became established as a completely iconic movement – the first art movement of the modern world.

The painting of Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1916-1919. impressionism
Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1916-1919. Wikipedia.

After the exhibition of 1874, seven more took place over the next 12 years. After 1886, the Impressionists as a group, divided by ideological differences, disintegrated. But the artists themselves did not disappear. They successfully worked on their new paintings, and they also remained impressionists (at least most of them). Like a divorced couple, they were just not together anymore.

Impressionism has become one of the most prominent artistic trends and a foundation of modern art. The movement gave birth to the ideas of the “color game” and the simplified depiction of objects. Its evolution transformed the art of the 20th century.


Want to learn more about Impressionism? We suggest:

I am a Ukrainian journalist, who used to write about politics a lot. But I do not do that anymore. First of all, I love art (even if this art is Untitled XXV by Willem de Kooning). Second of all, it is much easier to stay cool writing about freaks in the art world, than about ones in the political world. Third of all, art teaches us to reflect on around and inside us; politics, in the opposite, mostly teaches us not to think at all. So let’s try to save some brain cells talking about cultural heritage.

Comments

More in Art History 101

  • Literature

    Enchanting World of the Russian Tale: Seven Disney Characters in Russian Art

    By

    All of us watched Disney cartoons in our childhood and many people re-watch them even into adulthood. However, the original plots appeared in early historical periods when tales took place only in verbal or written narrations. That is why artists started making visual images of well-known...

  • Artist

    Lise Tréhot. The Mysterious Beauty from Renoir’s Paintings

    By

    Born into a humble French family, Lise Tréhot (1848–1922) was an artist’s model who posed exclusively for Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919). Lise posed for almost all of the female figures depicted by Renoir from 1866 until 1872. Incidentally, it was Clémence Tréhot, Lise’s older sister and lover...

  • 19th Century

    Painting of the Week: Józef Simmler, The Death of Barbara Radziwiłł

    By

    The National Museum in Warsaw is one of the largest museums in Poland and boasts an extensive art collection. Among its body of works is The Death of Barbara Radziwiłł by Józef Simmler. This painting is considered to be Simmler’s most artwork. It evokes the beauty...

  • 20th century

    Vive la Belle Époque! Giovanni Boldini & Franca Florio

    By

    The history of the Belle Époque reveals many scandalous stories. Behind the elegant portraits are hidden the interesting lives of grand dames and adventurous gentlemen. Drawing inspiration from the article about John Singer Sargent’s Madame X, we decided to tell you about another major artist from...

  • Impressionism

    Four Women Impressionists You Shouldn’t Forget

    By

    Impressionism is not only limited to Monet, Renoir, and Degas. There were four women Impressionists who were all the members of the same circle and exhibited works that were as innovative as those of their male counterparts: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, and Marie Bracquemond....

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy