Impressionist Art

The 19th-century saw an art movement that started in Paris and took the world by storm. Impressionist paintings are characterized by small and thin brush strokes, unusual angles, and the accurate capture of light as it changed and depicted time passing. Ordinary subjects, like

Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet

landscapes, people, or objects were often painted in this new and not so ordinary way.

The movement was named for a painting by Claude Monet, Impression, Sunrise. The critic Louis Leroy coined the term after reviewing some of the works, tongue-in-cheek, and the term stuck.

Bar at the Folies Bergere by Eduoard Manet

Though it initially began as a loose association of French artists who exhibited around Paris in the 1870s and 1880s, it also describes art which is created in the same style outside of that period.

Girl with a Fan by Auguste Renoir

Certainly, Claude Monet is the most famous of the impressionist artists, but there were many other talented artists during this time who painted in a similar style of broken brush strokes, intense color, and natural lighting. Monet and a small group of young artists, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille, and Alfred Sisley had all studied under Charles Gleyre, and often would paint together. Joined shortly after by Paul Cezanne, Armand Guillaumin, and Camille Pissarro, it is doubtful that Parisians realized the group would become some of the most celebrated artists in the world.

Best Known Impressionist Masters

Claude Oscar Monet was born in Paris on November 14, 1840 and he is widely known as the father of Impressionism. He is best known for his mastery of landscape painting, including the numerous paintings of the gardens at his home in Giverny. In all his works, he never wavered from the ideals that were set in the Impressionist movement.

Claude started his career by doing caricatures, but then studied art under Charles Gleyre and found his true passion. Monet’s landscape paintings are well known and ell loved around the world, and his popularity has only grown immensely since his death in 1926.

Antibes by Claude Monet

Impressionist paintings, like Monet’s painting—Impression: Sunrise have a unique blend of light and shadow captured within them. Unusual angles and small and thin brush strokes also are unique to Impressionist works.

Monet continued to paint well into his old age and even as his eyesight failed. He died of lung cancer at 86.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the Master Impressionists and another of the founders of the Impressionist movement. Rather than focus on landscapes like his peer Claude Monet, his favorite subjects were flowers, children, and female nudes.

Born in Limoges, France on February 25, 1841, Pierre-Auguste painted images on plates and dishes even as a young child and before he went to study art. He also studied under Charles Gleyre in Paris, as his counterparts Monet, Frederic Bazille, and Alfred Sisely had. This loose group of painters often worked and exhibited together, forming the backbone of the fledgling Impressionist movement.

Chrysanthemums by Auguste Renoir

Near the end of his life, Auguste had severe, crippling arthritis, but that did not stop him from painting. He was often seen painting with a brush attached to his paralyzed fingers. Renoir died of a heart attack in Cagnes, France at the age of 78 in 1919.

Eduoard Manet

Eduoard Manet was born to a bourgeoise family in Paris January 29, 1932. His mother was the god daughter of the Crown Prince of Sweden, and his father was a judge and magistrate. As a child, Eduaord was given an excellent education, though he did not excel academically, but rather showed his talent for the arts at an early age. His uncle and he frequented the Louvre, and Eduoard was enamored with the paintings there.

Luncheon on the Grass by Edouard Manet

He served in the merchant marines for a short time and then studied under Thomas Couture until 1856. He then began to paint, and often took on subjects concerning the great physical, cultural, and social changes that were taking place in Paris during this time period. He also worked very hard to ensure that his paintings would be accepted by the Salon, as he believed that was the only way to ever achieve success as an artist. The 1863 Salon being especially brutal and rejecting many works of art encouraged a group of young artists to set up Salon des Refuses, and it was during this exhibition that Manet was widely recognized for Luncheon on the Grass. This painting was roundly criticized because it depicted a nude modern Parisian woman and two clothed men. The firestorm surrounding it made Manet a household name.

Manet, as a member of French high society, remained focused on the Salon, even as he worked alongside the impressionists and even supported them financially. His paintings approached the notions of reflected light and impressionism that was so much a part of Monet and Renoir works.

Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezzane was born January 19, 1939 in Aix-en-Provence, the son of a prominent banker. In 1852, he entered the College Bourbon and met Emile Zola, who later would become a famous writer. They encouraged and motivated each other, and envisioned becoming the famous artist and writer that they would ultimately become. 

House of Pere Lacroix by Paul Cezanne

Cézanne began studying painting and drawing in 1856, even though his father opposed his artistic pursuits and eventually persuaded him to enter law school. He simultaneously studied art and law until 1861, when he talked his father into allowing him to go to Paris. He met Monet and Pisarro, and became acquainted with the works of other impressionists. From 1872-1874, he worked closely with Pisarro, and exhibited in the first of the eight Impressionist shows in 1874.

After 1877, Cezanne retreated to Aix, and began painting in a more personalized style that was not necessarily aligned with his friends. It is this body of work that is seen as his more mature and important work.

These are just a few of the great Impressionist artists, and we will expand on some of their live’s and works, as well as those of their contemporaries, in future blog postings. In the meanwhile, go to the homepage and search for your favorite Impressionist works to add to your home.

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