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IMPRESSIONISM

,

MODERNITY

and

TRADITION Neo-

Impressionism

Impressionist painting remains the most attractive period in the history of modern art and the most appreciated by the public . Series of exhibitions, an abundant literature and record sales give evidence of today's extraordinary resonance of works of the Impressionist painters, of which a number are engraved on our artistic conscience . At their time, Impressionist works appeared to be so outrageously modern, that it took their contemporaries more than thirty years to finally admit them - if not to like them -. However, as the years go by, Impressionism, seems to us nowadays, much more to maintain close links with tradition, and to constitute the esthetic achievement of an artistic creation related to realistic representation. This link, a long time considered as the most normal thing in the world, to which impressionism had given a new definition based on "impression", will thereafter lose its compulsory character with the evolution of fine arts in XXth century. Isn't the durable success of Impressionism due to the fact that we are sensitive to its modernity and to its traditionalism? Of course, Impressionism cannot be reduced to this unique aspect, it is also a bias to paint cheerful reality, that of leisures and beauty of nature, an endless search for natural light... in a word, a certain art of living which fits in with many aspirations of our society.

By the sea Auguste RENOIR, 1883 Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

This site in homage to the Impressionist painters attempts to present the history of the Impressionist Movement as well as the routes of each great painter whose name is indissociable of Impressionism.
Musics : DEBUSSY - Reverie (1890)

Impressionist Map

HISTORY OF

THE IMPRESSIONIST MOVEMENT

PREDECESSORS
Between 1820 and 1850, prestigious artistic movements would come up in French Painting. First the romantic revolution ( Géricault , Delacroix ), then the realistic movement ( Courbet , Millet ) where naturalist painters of "The Barbizon School" ( Daubigny , Rousseau , Troyon , Corot ) played a great role.

Constable. Cabanel and Bouguereau. .sociological : the new painters come from the working classes and are not related any more to aristocracy . and independent art on the other side. of which Corot will be the most famous representative. NY . Biography of Joseph Mallord William TURNER The ERA : SECOND EMPIRE and ACADEMIC ART The future Impressionists will grow in a country governed by authoritarian Napoleon III.esthetic : they hate the great historical or mythological "machines" of the academic painters. The advent of the Second Empire (1852-70) was to mark a rupture in the artistic history of the XIXth century in France.. whose cultural policy entirely centered on the greatness of the Empire was hostile to them.Under the influence of british landscape painters such as Bonington. Corot and Delacroix. Normandy) Calvary on The Côte de Grâce. and wish to express the simple beauties of nature. The cultural policy of Napoleon encenses an insipid academic art (the so called "pompier" style) best represented by Meissonnier. between official arton one side. . the life of their humblest contemporaries. and disparages a realistic art. Honfleur Camille COROT. often very pauper. and will constitute the models which all the Impressionists will take as a starting point at their beginnings.political : most realistic or naturalist painters are republican and disagree with the Coup d'etat of Napoleon III. Courbet . Millet..geographical : they are in search of sites protected from industrialization (Barbizon. covered with honors by the political power and ruling over the Academy of Fine Arts. 1829-30 Metropolitan Museum of Art. Daubigny. Turner. landscape painting would become a fully recognized genre in French Painting. Rousseau. illustrated by Courbet. This rupture will appear on multiple levels: . then represent the avant-garde of French Painting.

Corot. Jongkind. whose work comes to an end when Impressionist painters appear on the scene. colors. will be engaged in a struggle. "Independents". for independent pictorial art will evolve everywhere in Europe in the second half of the XIXth century towards a much more modern painting that better correspond to industrial progress acceleration . "Intransigents" or "Batignolles Group ". depending on time and context. The Impressionists and many great painters after them will make of Corot a source of inspiration. The new realism of the Impressionists definitively rejects the classical research of an ideal of beauty and an eternal essence of things. will develop in France between 1860 and 1890. at last "Impressionnists". Painters which will be named. is already a modern painter and can be seen as a precursor of Impressionists . He excels in "plein-air"(outdoor) landscape painting. and relative to the painter himself. that will take the name of Impressionism in the year 1874. This evolution in painting history is not an isolated movement. and changes in the way of life .). . ) that Monet attended as a young painter. and his portraits are every bit as good as his landscapes for they release so much expressiveness. skies. and will dedicate him an immense admiration. This new painting will be the result of a series of reflexions and intentions which preceded it... see Jean-Baptiste Camille COROT A NEW CONTEMPORARY REALISTIC PAINTING A new style of painting. begun with Manet in 1860. against an old and dusty workshop painting art with established conventions that had become too restrictive for modern time. and that of neo-impressionist painters of the Meetings of Saint-Siméon in Honfleur ( Boudin. that of Barbizon School's painters... and postulates instead as preponderant the real vision compared to any learned conventional theory. Moreover they will try without success to obtain his participation in their 1st group exhibition in 1874. in order to have their new realistic way of painting recognized. The work that results from this vision is claimed to be relative : relative to the conditions under which the same scene can be observed (lights. Dubourg.This policy will not prevent the belated fame of Corot (1796-1875) from growing up.

1869 Neue Pinakothek Munich. the act to paint is asserted as a personal pleasure . Beach at Sainte-Adresse Claude MONET. Germany . summarizes this claim of the artist to give his personal vision . and not what others like to see". Impressionist painters will deeply renew painting themes to better picture their contemporary world . 1867 Art Institute of Chicago By doing so. as well as an autonomous spiritual value . which will be put at the service of a new conception about the role and place of painting in society. red and yellow).. form and volume resulting from colored brushworks instead of drawing-contour. use of flat colors with attenuated variations. The Impressionist movement is thus well at the origin of a great artistic revolution . today still the object of studies and analysis. A woman ironing Edgar DEGAS. It acts of a one moment painting.. In this conception of art for art . For them. Forsaking historical or mythological subjects. close to the draft. division of tones (an orange is represented by juxtaposition of two pure colors. will lead them to undertake multiple pictorial researches and to forsake a number of rules which then passed for immutable in painting : precise drawing and contours. Last point. a subject is worth another . that of his own subjectivity. thickness of paint .. the execution of a painting is fast .Manet's formula : "I paint what I see. Their great concern about giving representations translating the artist's real vision with its immediate nuances. the future Impressionists will introduce a number of new pictorial processes : use of light tones. The Impressionist step aiming at representing a surrounding reality which is relevant only at one moment and under given conditions . each painter developing his own set of themes. the artist is free of his personal creation. light and shade convention. of a fugitive impression. They seek their subjects in the eternal world of nature as well as in their daily world .. which counts being more their vision and their pictorial search to paint it.

Luncheon on the grass Edouard MANET. Impressionist painting was going to leave strictly figurative representation. in homage to these men. his " Luncheon on the grass "(1863) or his " Olympia " (1863) are classically written subjects reactualized with genius in contemporary world. But.in particular the nudes that they would cause scandal and be violently attacked by critics of that time. the Impressionists had achieved their goal and were at last recognized. from 1860 to 1886.1862 . even if with " The music at the Tuileries " . all the time necessary for the public to come to them and that a change of opinion occurred. year of their last group show in Paris and of the first exhibition of their works in the United States . using the exact means of traditional pictorial representation that he had so thoroughly learned . One knows today how far that was going to lead. to modify it in any way in order to be accepted of the public. They held on with their so detested way of painting. against academic conventions that had become so rigid that they prohibited painting contemporary subjects. Paris .1858. Impressionism will then quickly find a broad echo in Europe and North America. They waited.of which he will be subject to influence in return -. successfully organized by art dealer Durand-Ruel . to invent a new style of artistic representation which was going to mark the beginning of nonfigurative modern painting. in the century where photography was invented. " Over twenty-five years. 1863 Musée d'Orsay. with so realistic transpositions . poverty. even for one moment. and appears on the other hand as the one who did allow its birth. after other works like " The absinthe drinker " . Let us quote their contemporary Theodore Duret (Art critic 1838-1927) in his " History of the Impressionist painters " : "It should be said. opprobrium. he never truly belonged to the Impressionist movement. MANET REREADS CLASSICS Manet opened the way to Impressionism while rebelling. Manet already prefigures Impressionist painting . never led them to deviate at any time of their way. without considering. that contempt. during many years.If Impressionist masters are now at the firmament of painting. supported by their confidence in the principles and the value of their art . Thus. it is important to recall to which extent their painting was misunderstood and rejected at their time . One can consider that in 1886 .

as in the past. but also soon its pictorial means . 4000 works were refused out of 5000 paintings presented by some 3000 artists. Manet quickly gained notoriety . because of the scandals he caused. Art will go from now on. into a market logic. through whom. after Corot and Courbet. will defend Manet's cause and his new painting in "The Event". their shops or the exhibitions which they organize give quite modest possibilities for the artists to get known compared to the large national window which constitutes the "Official Salon " of Paris. as well as any other product. For the only year 1863. and due to his immense talent as a painter. the Salon becomes annual and a jury made up of members of the Academy of Fine Arts and preceeding medal-holders of the Salon selects works to be exhibited. For the future Impressionists. In order to find a public and purchasers. . 1869 Nationalmuseum. which became the first and existential concern for this new generation of artists. In 1863 . the fact of "court painters " working at the service of some princes or temporal powers which order works to them. and a new guide. which led to the creation of the " Salon des Refusés". and from 1864 will become the leader of a quarrel opposing the old ones and the modern ones. Painting started an all-out revolution concerning not only painting themes. such as "Le Père Martin" . and become the supporter and historian of the arising movement . From 1865. ART MARKET BEGINNINGS While economic development changes society. he will become. famous writer Emile Zola. they will meet. but more and more the fact ofindependent artists selling their paintings to buyers . for some of them. painting is subject to a great liberal evolution. it was a necessity for the artist to be able to exhibit his works. an example of a new manner of painting. around whom they will naturally gather and. in the sense that it will no longer be. Durand-Ruel and later Petit start playing an active role in art market. a school fellow of Cézanne in Aix. Stockholm THE STATE-RUN "PARIS SALON" ART SHOW If some art dealers. It is there that successes and prices of art works are decided.Indeed. La Grenouillère Auguste RENOIR. inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1863.

In the heart of their concerns:  to take on and develop the Realism of Courbet and the painters of Barbizon practicing outdoor painting. In 1862. At the Academy Suisse (a workshop which provided models to young painters). A NEW GENERATION OF PAINTERS Pissarro is the senior of the Impressionists. If Pissarro. Bazille. will obtain .   La grenouillère Claude MONET. Bazille and Sisley . quartet which appears to be the founding members of the Impressionist group. were best accepted at the Salon. Renoir. The strongest relationships will be those of Monet with his friends. Sisley. in spite of his protests. it also is on a more basic level a movement of painters refused at the Salon and trying to exhibit their works. After they left the Fine Arts School. they will experience alternately successes and failures at the Salon . where the painters of the "Group of Batignolles" (as one designated the future Impressionists at that time) used to meet. and will weave between them multiple links. Through Manet . only one and single participation at the Salon in 1882! If the Impressionist movement certainly is a group of painters having in common artistic ideas and researches. with whom he get acquainted as early as 1862. he meets Monet in 1859. Monet enrolled at the famous "École des Beaux-Arts" (School of Fine Arts) where he will meet Renoir.Surprisingly. Cézanne. most future Impressionists quickly obtained their first admission to the Salon. then Guillaumin and Cézanne in 1861. while at the same time anxiously searching their artistic personality. Bazille and Degas (continuously from 1865 to 1870). but will thereafter frequently be refused . 1869 Metropolitan Museum of Art New York . These artists are all aged between 20 and 30 . Degas will later meet Monet and Renoir in 1866 at the famous Café Guerboislocated in the Batignolles Street. during the years between the Salon des Refusés (1863) and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. with a specific research about light and color effects to paint and develop new themes in art that relate to new aspects of modern life to work out a new style of vision and a pictorial representation allowing to better account for movement and permanent change of their time.

The IMPRESSIONIST MOVEMENT and ITS PAINTERS . relieved from the yoke of the cultural policy of the Second Empire. They were going to be terribly disappointed. 1873. and knew still more failures at the Salon than before war. sunrise Claude MONET. The first show of the Impressionists took place in April 1874.By 1869 .. sunrise " (1872-73) giving its name to the Movement. Monet and Renoir as they were executing side by side a series of paintings in a leisure place on the Seine River called "La Grenouillère"frequented by Parisian middleclass people. This word will give its name to the new movement only five years later. December 27. Paris It counted 3500 visitors .. with 31 participants . Little by little the idea that they could just as well do without the Salon get installed in their mind. they expected an increased recognition and an increase in their sales. strengthened by art dealer DurandRuel . and the deep shock undergone by french society with the Commune in 1871 will generate an intellectual climate of distrust towards any innovation or artistic revolution. they were certain of their way of seeing . the painting by Monet entitled "Impression. the Impressionists were going to continue to work with a great enthusiasm in the direction which they had taken. would depict the agitation of this place with small fast brushworks. 1874 . against 400 000 for the Official Salon. mobile reflections on water. From now on. and. Boulevard des Capucines. sculptors". The young IIIth Republic is then unstable. and was held without Manet for whom the Salon was to remain predominant. thus rendering the "impression" which emerges from this place rather than details.THE FIRST IMPRESSIONIST GROUP SHOW After the war of 1870. 1873 Musée Marmottan. they deposited the statutes of a "Limited company of the artistpainters. and the civil war "The Commune" which followed in 1871. Impression. characters at the state of draft. in an apartment lent by photographer Félix Nadar .

Monet and Sisley are the most typical representatives -.of which Pissarro. installed in the forest of Fontainebleau between 1830 and 1860. and Eva Gonzales (18491883) Caillebotte meets Degas. at his beginnings as a painter. Bazille met at the Fine Arts School in 1862. If there is indeed an " Impressionist " style . who will become his sister-in-law by marrying his brother Eugen. then. Guillaumin and Cézannewith whom he was to work later at Pontoise Monet . Manet will have as pupils Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). each painter follows his own research. before becoming coorganizer and co-financial of most of the following ones. . Mary Cassatt (1845-1926) From 1868. and constituted the core of the movement.Pissarro meets Monet at the Academy Suisse in 1859. such as. Renoir . before meeting Monet and Renoir in 1866 at the café Guerbois. the School of Barbizon. and helps them to organize the 1st exhibition of the Impressionist group in 1874. Sisley . Monet and Renoir in 1873. meets Pissarro in 1875 and becomes his pupil. Bazille will be killed at Franco-Prussian war of 1870 Degas meets Manet in 1862 (" Portrait of Manet" . in 1861. The Impressionists do not have truly represented a school. then takes part from 1879 on in the Impressionist shows Van Gogh will arrive in Paris in March 1886. where he will discover and integrate Impressionism.1864 ). Manet and Corot decline the invitation to take part in this exhibition Catalog of the 4th Impressionist Show 1879 Gauguin. while studying in Charles Gleyre' workshop. for instance. Works of great painters known as Impressionists are actually diverse and quite different between them. his own individual advance. since 1877. He will have as a follower.

from 1874 to 1886 . on behalf of the institutions Academy of Fine Arts and Jury of the Salon -. I remain sorry to have been the cause of the name given to a group the majority of which did not have anything Impressionist ". but as many singular works which will be worked out. two great meteors whose road crossed for a short moment the Impressionist movement. Guillaumin . This Movement can be seen more like that of a "group of painters". will evolve later on in a definitely distinct way. This is even truer for Gauguin and Van Gogh. are true Impressionist painters. such as Renoir. This question is not new sinceMonet will write little time before his death : ". seen from Bellevue Paul CEZANNE. or Cézanne who appears much more as a precursor of XXth century painting. Moreover. vers 1882-85 Metropolitan Museum of Art New York . and of the majority of art critics. .No school thus which would have codified a single style of painting. They will stick together in their fight against exclusion of which they will be the victims. having in common their refusal of official painting and sharing their researches about a new manner of representing the real world.. Cézanne. within the "Impressionist Movement" . One still discusses today to know whether Degas.. the history of the Impressionist movement was relatively short. for a time at least. The routes of the painters of the Impressionist group must thus well be considered individually and remain dominating. their own exhibitions (8 on the whole). with distinct artistic personalities. The Sainte-Victoire Mountain... Degas. fact which constitutes the first and outstanding originality of the movement. This lack of recognition will lead them to organize. and some of the painters who accompanied this movement as of its beginning. over a period of 12 years.

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