The early impressionists astounded art lovers by pushing against the grain of academic painting rules. Following the lead of painters such as Eugène Delacroix and JMW Turner, the Impressionists created paintings where color took precedence over lines and contours. The free brushstrokes of artists such asClaude Monet orEdgar Degas, have changed art history ever since. Get to know the fantastic story of this movement that changed our view on the principles of art.
What is impressionism?
In the 19th century, the Impressionists developed a new technique, in which they painted spontaneous compositions. This was only possible thanks to the development of portable ink tubes — the ones we currently know and are familiar with. In this way, they managed to leave the studio and get closer to the reality of the subject they were painting. The paintings ofmoney and the other impressionists recreated in their paintings the sensations of their vision of the seen landscape, quickly, immediately and full of movement. Instead of meticulously outlining the details of the “landscape”, these compositions emphasized the play of color and light in order to express the sensations of the present. This movement gave wings to later ones, such as Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, among others. Meet five key artists for this revolutionary aesthetic.
1. Claude Monet
Famous French painter and founder of the Impressionist movement, along with his friends Renoir, Sisley and Bazille.money rejected the traditional approach to landscape painting when creating pieces of art, by observing the variations in color and light caused by daily or seasonal changes. It was on the beaches of Normandy, around 1856 and 1857, that he met Eugéne Boudin who taught him how to use oil paints and the "en plein air" technique for painting. During his long career, he was consistent and prolific in Impressionism's philosophy of expressing his perceptions of nature, especially in the application of outdoor landscape painting. The term "Impressionism" is derived from the title of his painting Impression, soleil levant, exhibited at the 1874 Salon des Refusés (this salon of the refuse was created bymoney and its associates as an alternative to Salon). “Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond”, “Woman with a Parasol”, “Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies”, “Water Lilies” are some of the most popular works of the French painter.
2. Paul Cezanne
He was a French artist who established the connection between late 19th century impressionism and the new line of artistic investigation of the early 20th century, namely Cubism. George Braque and Picasso were inspired by the works of Paul Cézanne, in the conception of Cubism, stating that "Paul Cézanne is the father of us all". His paintings and drawings are clearly recognizable, due to the composition elaborated with repetitive and sensitive brushstrokes, full of planes of color that directly express the sensations of what he observes. His works are thus a practically abstract construction of the observed nature that they reflect on the complexity of human visual perception. “The Large Bathers”, “A Modern Olympia”, “The Basket of Apples” and “Château Noir” are some of the most popular works by the French painter.
3. Édouard Manet
French painter who became known for challenging traditional techniques of representation with his paintings, full of fast and intense brushstrokes, which portrayed the environment and events that surrounded him (bourgeois life). The choice of this theme was unusual at the time, so it caused a shock. The next generation was influenced by these works, thus establishing a new movement: realism. "Olympia", "The Luncheon on the Grass", "The Balcony" and "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère" are some of the most popular works by the French painter.
4. Edgar Degas
Painter of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with strong connections to the Impressionist movement, although he rejected that association. In his works, he explored various technical processes and represented objects by their pictorial qualities, leaving aside the faithful portrait, which until then was essential in painting.His best-known pieces are those that portray ballerinas, but his production also includes self-portraits and portraits of other artists, such as Manet, Tissot, or Mary Cassatt. He was mainly known for painting, although he also produced sculptural works and became interested in photography.
5. Pierre-Auguste Renoir
He was one of the central figures of the Impressionist movement, breaking with pictorial traditions, with his paintings full of vivid colors that represented the first impression of an object. In the summer of 1869, Renoir painted for two months alongside Monet at La Grenouillère, a nautical establishment and seaside resort on the outskirts of Paris. Here they developed an impressionist aesthetic, with a painting technique characterized by wide, loose brushstrokes and a vivid palette that captured the effects of the sun streaming through the trees onto rippling water. In addition to these beautiful landscapes, Renoir became famous for his sensual nudes and enchanting scenes with beautiful women ("Les Grandes Baigneuses", "Reclining Nude from the Back, Rest after the Bath", "The Judgment of Paris").
Discover more about the artistic currents of the 20th century:
What is Cubism? Where did Cubism originate? What were the main works and artists?
What is Abstractionism? Where did it come from?
The Surrealist Salvador Dalí
What is a Still Life? 5 Impressive Works of Art