Impressionism - Changes in the Perception of 'What is Art'

I think it’s time we tackle some of the art movements that come under the rubric of Modern Art which generally refers to the period from about 1860 with Impressionism heralding massive changes. I first saw the paintings of the Impressionists at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in 1978 & my mind is blazoned with the vibrancy of the colours for ever.

We have to start with Claude Monet(1840–1926)as the name of the style was based on Monet's painting Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise), coined by the critic Louis Leroy in a satirical review published in the Parisian newspaper Le Charivari.
The Impressionists of course invited criticism as they set about to break all the established rules of acceptable art previously seen in the form of still life, portraits & landscapes most often painted in a studio. The new breed of artists painted en plein air (outside), creating scenes of everyday life & seeking to capture the fleeting effects of movement & light. Their paintings burst into life with broken brush stokes. The colours were intoxicating applied with little attention to blending, often using an Impasto technique- thick paint with visible brush strokes- as seen here in a close up of Grainstacks in the Morning, Snow Effect by Monet.
I must, at this point, acknowledge the influence the works of Gustave Courbet, Delacroix & Turner had on this new style and if you're interested follow the links to learn more. As the Impressionists began to gel, at first there was a group of four- Monet, Auguste Renoir(1841–1919), Alfred Sisley (1839–1899) & Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870)working away together. To represent Renoir I have chosen a delightful painting titled Camille Monet and her son Jean in the garden at Argenteuil.
And for Sisley we have Les Petits Pres au Printemps.
You might not have heard of Bazille as he is not as well known. I have given him the honour of being represented in the Hero Image today in Beach at Sainte Adresse -a very early work by him.

Soon this quartet was joined by Édouard Manet (1832–1883) who did wonderful paintings of people as shown in this example In the Conservatory.

The key group was completed with the addition of Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) & someone you might not have heard of, Armand Guillaumin (1841–1927) signing on for the long haul. For Pissarro we have View of Bazincourt Sunset and an excellent example of the brilliant control of light being achieved.
And we must give Armand Guillaumin more attention. Here is his Mountain Landscape Pontgibaud Village in Peschadoire. His autumn colours are wonderful, aren't they?

To complete the essential French Impressionists we must include Cezanne who eventually rebelled and formed the Post-Impressionism movement with Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh & Georges Seurat. The Post-Impressionists rejected Impressionism's concern with the spontaneous and naturalistic rendering of light and colour. I have chosen Cezanne's Mont Sainte Victoire as it demonstrates some of the changes taking place in his perception of the world.

Before leaving today I want to recognise the American Impressionists through the work of Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) who lived and worked in Paris for some time. This work is called Red Poppies.
And I have also chosen a female painter to represent the movement here in Australia as we know the male painters so well (Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder & Frederick McCubbin). This is The Cabbage Garden by Jane Sutherland.
Jane Sutherland (1853-1928) is an excellent example to conclude with as she traverses, to borrow an equine dressage term, three continents. She was born in New York to George Sutherland (woodcarver) & his wife Jane (née Smith). Both her parents were Scottish born. And then the family migrated to Sydney in 1864 moving to Melbourne in 1870. George Sutherland became a drawing instructor with the Department of Education & exhibited with the Victorian Academy of Arts (1875-78).

So, where to next? Let's challenge ourselves by looking at Fauvism which was inspired by the break away group of Post Impressionists mentioned above.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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