Blogland Lane Logo by our own Tessa Edwards

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

History of art: Impressionism

Hellow my dear neighbours, since I do not know how to cook, neither how to do any kind of manual activity, I decided to invite you to my place to listen to a talk about the art history. Welcome on board everyone, we are about to start.

The term 'Impressionist' was first used as an insult in response to an exhibition of new paintings in Paris in 1874. A diverse group of painters, rejected by the art establishment, defiantly set up their own exhibition. They included Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas.

What characterises Impressionism for most people nowadays, is both the subject matter and the technique. Landscapes, and scenes from modern urban and suburban life painted in bright, pure colours are typical. Impressionists often began (and sometimes completed) their paintings outdoors rather in a studio. Their rapidly applied brushstrokes are often visible.

The scientific discoveries and inventions of the 19th century had an important influence on the way painters worked. New research encouraged artists to experiment with complementary colours. For instance, in Renoir's The Skiff (La Yole), he places an orange boat against cobalt blue water. Orange and blue were understood to be opposite one another in the color spectrum, and by placing them next to each other, each looked deeper and brighter. Even more significant to the Impressionists was an interest in the way in which the human mind processes what it sees. When we look at a landscape, or a crowd of people, we do not instantly see every face, or leaf in detailed focus, but as a mass of colour and light. Impressionist painters tried to express this experience. According to Gombrich, "They discovered that if we look at nature in the open, we do not see individual objects each with its own colour but rather a bright medley of cones which blend in our eye or really in our mind."

Another factor which changed how artists painted was the innovation of ready-made paint in tubes. Grinding pigments in order to make up oil paint had been a laborious and untidy process. The availability of a wide range of ready-made colors meant that artists could work outdoors, rather than in a studio. They could also work at much greater speed, at moments applying the paint straight from the tube without even using a brush.

Absorbing japonism techniques from the Japanese allowed the Impressionists to expand and divert away from the classical painters. Japanese wood block prints were imitated and the stringent French art scene was able to enjoy its first taste of globalization via the magnificent works some of the world's most renowned artists were able to produce thanks to the inspiration of the Japanese culture.

Their main aim was substituting the dominant idea of "Beauty" for the new one of "Freedom". To understand this concept is important to pay attention to the historic and social frame of the time which included the apparition of the brain, the solo photograph and individual clocks.

That's all folks, hope you enjoyed the chat, you are welcome to comment about it or ask questions if you have doubts.


  1. Thanks very much, Mariana. This is what makes Blogland Lane so interesting. We have fun, but also we learn a lot from each other. The impressionism was one of the most spectaculair changes in art. The courage of the painters who presented this whole new kind of seeing things was amazing.

  2. Oh, thank you Mariana! One of my favourite subects - I'm already looking forward to your next post!

  3. Thank you, Mariana. This was very interesting.

  4. Wieneke, Carolina and Leigh, thank you very much to all of us, I was worried because I did not know how it was going to be recieved a proposal like that, but then I thought it a little and given the kind of persons you are I was almost sure that at least a couple of people will enhoy the class.

    I will try to prepare another one for next week, although it is hard to do better than impresionissm, but maybe van gogh and gaugen relation, along with their paintings could be an interesting subject, welll there are also many other that just came to my mind.
    Thank girls.

  5. mariana, this captured my attention from your first word. i learned effortlessly. you've presented this with the ability of a great teacher.

    and don't forget your knowledge of philosophy and how the brain works.

    now i know more than i did about impressionism! when i paint, which is not often enough and not at a skilled level, i paint details. i've never learned to rely on shapes and colors like this. very interesting.


  6. Questions! What was the public reaction to such a show? When did the cogniscenti begin to realize the value of the work?

  7. this is a very good post . it was a real pleasure to read it .

  8. You're a very good teacher! I thoroughly enjoyed your post and it taught me a lot...thank you!

  9. I loved that topic on ART...Thank you..not comely discussed. Thank you!

  10. Kj
    Thank you very much for all that you are telling me it makes me very happy to know all that you say to me.

    Maybe the class went all right cause I am really passionate about those guys.

    One last thing, it is interesting how when you get to know some things in a deeper way you enjoy them much more also.

    Love for you KJ

  11. Middle Aged Woman
    Well people where apolled, at least most of them, they used to think those guys where degenerates. The first guy who had some sucess with his paintings was manet, but I think he was the oldest of them all and had a much longer carrear doing it.
    Regarding being apreciated:
    In 1874, a group got together and organised their own exhibition as an alternative to the salon. This group included Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas and Alfred Sisley. Although the exhibition was not a success, it was the first independent group show of Impressionist art. The impressionists held seven subsequent exhibitions between 1876 and 1886 and not all response to their work was negative. Some critics liked their fresh approach to painting and wrote favourable reviews encouraging the painters. The individual artists saw few financial rewards from the Impressionist exhibitions, but their art gradually won a degree of public acceptance. The public, at first hostile, gradually came to believe that the Impressionists had captured a fresh and original vision, even if it did not meet with approval of the artistic establishment.
    Take care woman

    Caio Fernandes and Marion
    Thank you very much for your great comments

  12. Sonia ;)
    You welcome and it is my pleasure

  13. One of our resident artists, Soulbrush, shows a great deal of impressionist influence. I envy the broad brushstrokes. When I try-I end up with this twisted, uptight little sad things. The only time I was able to break free of that was a really nice painting I did with acrylics and mixed media-and I used my fingers alot.

    I gave the painting away, but I always remembered the creation of it.

    I've enjoyed this post and the discussion-well done!

  14. opening the doors to acceptance and also to understanding and the appreciation of what they accomplished was a challenge to the impressionist movement. (true in almost every historic new movement in painting.) their work to me is about light, an almost scientific turn towards the modern age, but still within the range of traditional composition though it certainly became very abstract in Monets work with the water lilies. They used entirely new ways to apply color, texture and surface qualities using areas of contrasting, gradating and complementary color to achieve a picture in which the eye itself is allowed to mix the color. it was considered outrageous at first. but those painters like monet and mary cassatt and renoir and degas developed one of the most prolific and important schools of painting in the history of art. it is really an amazing story and you tell it so well. imo, cezanne can be considered impressionist on a broad scale but i find his work to be different in some important aspects, using broad flat planes of color and line and shape within a representational composition, not the dashed repetitive brushstrokes. i think cezanne especially went beyond impressionism in his work and became in a sense a bridge to cubism and then to abstract expressionism and so on. i love the impressionist movement because it brought major positive changes in ways of seeing. and as you can probably deduce from what i express about cezanne, i find his vision to be particularly unique for his circle, his work went beyond impressionism toward a more direct relationship with color and a letting go of the impressionist formula to reveal organic form within, a kind of volume or depth, while the impressionist paintings dance on the surface of the canvas and translate to the eye in a magical way. i am so glad to have read this post and enjoyed it very much, thank you.
    i have read and enjoyed your posts, the mathematics too, amazing! fascinating subjects done intelligently, sensitively, philosophically, factually. (sorry for being so longwinded)

  15. Debora Kay

    Thank you very much for your kind comments, I do know the artist that you mention, and Indeed I like what she does a lot, and sometimes comment about her paintings

    Take care

  16. Tipota, please do not apologize it is a very interesting complementary information the one you are telling here about this paintors, it is fascinating the story of them and their movement, and for example we should devote a post just to mari casat theory and work, and another one about cesane and his break trough towards cubism, there are tons of interesting things that we can talk about around this fantastic subject. Maybe you can do the next post about art if you feel like telling us a little bit about it.

    Thanks you very much and take care

  17. Interesting! Thanks Mariana... Keep it up!

  18. Wow quite a response. I recently visited the Sydney Art Gallery and saw the Monet exhibition, beautiful . we shouldn't forget that other school though, the Dutch impressionists, quite a different movement, look and style but beautiful nonetheless. Great . .learned a lot here.

  19. aaahhh, this is what i love about blogland lane. sharing. learning. connecting.

    i am a content temporary mayor...


  20. M Riyadh Sharif
    Thanks a lot I will try to do it

    Very interestring I agree the thing about the dutch impresionism, they are also amazing, I have been checking them a little but not enough yet, I did not have tim.

    Thanks, I agree it is great, you say you are what? did you miss a word or you said that related to this fantastic blog you made?

    take care all of you

  21. Debora kay
    Thanks a lot for the reference to soulbrush with respect to this, I just wrote on one of her posts, that was pretty much relate it.