A Closer Look at the Impressionists

The Anonymous Painters Society organized a maiden exhibition in 1874 in Paris, which launched the impressionism movement. Notably among them are Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas.

This group of artists prided themselves in their artistic independence and even ignored the official Salon jury which was known to award medals to recognized works of art. Critics described the works of the impressionists as sketch-like work that looked unfinished. These comments are attributed to the novel style of painting that the impressionists adopted. For instance, they did not apply a thick golden varnish like the classical artists did and they used loose strokes in their works. The use of radical bright colors also characterized impressionists’ works as opposed to the traditional neutral greys, blacks and whites.

Progressive writers however did praise the impressionists, describing the new form of art as modern. In Edmond Duranty’s essay, The New Painting, he describes impressionism as innovative and revolutionary. Today, the impressionist school is known for their modern themes, the incorporation of new ideas and the employment of new technology.

Generally impressionist had a multifaceted approach to their artistic expression, obviously staying true to their individual independence. Claude Monet’s, Sunrise which was in the 1874 exhibition demonstrated emphasis on light effects, broken brush strokes and pure unblended colors earning the name impressionism from critics. Alfred Sisley’s Chestnut Trees portrayed a seemingly effortless brushwork and casual style that was accepted even in the Salon. Pierre Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet are known for modern images of rural and suburban leisure out of the city. Pissarro depicted the life of vacationers in rural Pontoise. In the depiction of post Prussian war Paris, Gustave Caille botte and Pissarro painted images of the renovated city depicting public parks grand buildings and wide boulevards. Cassatt’s 1878 Loge painted theatrical entertainment. Though united in modernity, the impressionists had political and philosophical views, making it difficult to define the school.


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