Introduction its emphasis on ” the changing


Impressionism, an art movement, was born in France in the 19th century specifically in the period between 1860 and 1880 with its major goal being to popularize the impressionist art style, which was a deviation from and a contrast to the more popular and traditional academic art style that had dominated the French art scene of the time. Before the impressionism period painting was known to be done indoors only, however, this changed with the impressionist art style.

To early impressionists the element of light had to be captured in their paintings and thus, they were inspired to paint outdoors (or “en plain air” in French). The author Oak in his/her article credits these early impressionists as having shown art the outside world (Oak par. 3). A critical examination of Oak’s article reveals that the impressionist art style has three main distinctive features (Oak par. 3).

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The first of these features is that the visual angles in impressionist art paintings are unique so because it is in this way that movement is depicted in impressionism artworks. The second feature of impressionist art style is according to Oak the ” prominently evident brush strokes” (Oak par. 2), which according to are done with pure colours ( par. 5).

The open composition evident in impressionist paintings, which is mainly because the paintings are done outdoors is the third feature of the impressionist art style. Oak continues and points out that the impressionist art style lays its emphasis on ” the changing patterns of light ” and by doing this a single impressionist work is able to capture multiple instances of time.

The impressionist art form usually gives few details about what was being painted this is because impressionists paint from vivid images generated from glimpses they had of something. Some examples of famous impressionist paintings are Dance at Le Moulin de la Galett done in the year 1876 and Impression, Sunrise done in the year 1872 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet respectively.


History of impressionism

In the 17th century an informal element of impressionism existed in paintings done by Dutch painters as these works exhibited as Oak points out a “vivid distinction between the subject and the background” (Oak par. 4). This is common with impressionist paintings. The art of Photography was born and it became an inspiration to painters as they were more challenged to capture the different moments and themes that constituted daily life.

With photographers, being able to reveal details and facts through photography painters would interpret these (and other) details and facts in their paintings. Oak, again, credits early impressionists as having been ” the first to bring in subjectivity to paintings ” (Oak Par.4). French and Japanese art are considered the starting point of the impressionist art style.

In mid 19th century, the French art scene was strongly dominated by the traditional academic style, which was pioneered by the Academie des Beaux-Arts. This institution strongly held the philosophy and belief that the use of art was solely for the purpose of depicting historical and religious entities and matters and as a consequence its paintings according to Oak ” lacked vibrancy and brightness ” (Oak par.5).

The Academie des Beaux-Arts was a very conservative institution that was vehemently opposed to new forms of arts, which it considered liberal. These new form of arts were mainly from new, upcoming and young artists. The Academie des Beaux-Arts frustrated these artists by denying them support owing to its conservative views and nature.

The Academie des Beaux-Arts annually held an art show during which a panel of selected judges would review the art exhibits of different artists. At the end of their reviews the judges would compile a list of artists who according to them had the best exhibits and present it to the Academie des Beaux-Arts.

Such like artists would be awarded prizes by the institution. According to Oak, noticeable from the judgements made by the panel of judges was the fact that they were vehemently opposed to paintings that Oaks describes as portraying unconventionality (Oak par. 6).

This attitude by the judges had the resultant effect of suppressing the freedom of expression of some and mainly young artists. This was notoriously displayed in the Academie’s art show of the year 1863 in which lots of exhibits from young artists were rejected to such an extent that Emperor Napoleon III had to commission a huge exhibition known as Salon des Refuses to display to the public those rejected exhibits. The Salon des Refuses was an attraction to mainly liberal artists and inspired a new trend in art.

In 1873 an association of Paris-based artists was formed which included painters (impressionists included), sculptors and engravers to enable them exhibit their work following the failure of the Salon des Refuses to be held twice (in 1867 and 1872) (Oak par. 7). The association put together its first exhibition in 1974, which displayed the work of 30 artists.

Initially, the society criticized the exhibitions put together by the association owing to its background however, this changed later. Internal conflicts threatened the stability of the association a case in point being the break away of one its pioneers and impressionist, Renoir. In the following decade Renoir would abandon and oppose the impressionist art style. Oak notes that, all of the eight exhibitions put up by the association to display the impressionist art form displayed the work of Pissarro (Oak par. 7).

Not only did these exhibitions popularize the impressionist art form but as Oak points out they presented impressionists with monetary benefits as well (Oak par. 8). Impressionists did not do it all on they own but benefited significantly from the efforts of their dealer Durand Ruel who was instrumental especially in popularizing the impressionist art form among the society through the art shows he arranged specifically for the two parties (impressionists and the society) (Oak par. 8).

The determination of the early impressionist and the efforts of Durand Ruel is what popularized the novel art form that is impressionism, which is to-date is considered in the world of art as a major breakthrough.

Pioneer impressionists

One pioneer impressionist who contributed greatly to impressionism is Claude Monet who was born in Paris, France in the year 1840. Claude Monet was educated in art. Initially, in Nomandie where is family had moved to, Monet according to was renowned for his art in charcoal caricature ( par. 3).

In 1858, Monet met and joined Eugene Boudene an expert in oil paints and out door painting. In Paris in 1862 Monet started working under the supervision of Charles Gleyre. According to, it is during this time that Monet made the acquaintance of Renoir, Bazille and Sisley who are also considered pioneers of the impressionist art form ( par. 4).

The four of them began work on a new art form inspired by a new approach to art. The new art form they developed is what later became impressionism and according to it was a style in which they attempted to ” paint the effects of light with broken colour and rapid brush strokes ” ( par.4).

During his adult life, Monet is reported to have travelled as far as England and Holland. When Monet got older, he developed a serious eye condition for which he was operated twice in an effort to improve his eyesight. Paintings Monet does after his operations have an unusual reddish tone, a situation which could have arisen from his persistent eye problem ( par. 6).

Monet married Camille, the model posing in many of his art works like the “Camille” and “ Camille Monet on her deathbed ”. With Camille, Monet bore two children both of them boys. Though he remarried following the death of Camille, Monet never bore children with his second wife.

According to Claude Monet died of lung cancer on the 6th of December 1926 in Giverny, France at 86 years of age ( par. 8). One of Claude Monet’s famous art work is the Impression, Sunrise (or in French ” Impression, soleil levant “) done in the year 1872 and which is a sunrise view of the Le Havre harbour in France. The term “impressionism” was coined from Louis Leroy’s criticism of this painting.

Another pioneer impressionist who contributed greatly to impressionism is Camille Pissarro who was born in the Danish West indies in the year 1830 (A+E Television Networks, LLC. Par 1). Interested so much in painting Camille Pissarro moved to Paris in the year 1955 where he did landscapes and pioneered impressionism.

Oak notes that, all of the eight exhibitions put up by the association of Paris-based artists to display the impressionist art form displayed the work of Pissarro (Oak par. 7). Camille Pissarro last works are considered by experts to be part of his best. Camille Pissarro died on the 13th of November the year 1903 at the age of 73. One of Camille Pissarro famous works is the “Boulevard Montmartre” which he did in the year 1897.

Another pioneer impressionist who contributed greatly to impressionism is Alfred Sisley who was born in Paris in the year 1839. Alfred Sisley though greatly faced with poverty took on painting as a career and did it full-time (A+E Television Networks, LLC. par. 1). Alfred Sisley is one of the artists who put up the impressionism movement.

Alfred Sisley died in the year 1899 at the age of 60. One of Alfred Sisley’s famous works is the “Lane Near a Small Town” which he did in the year 1864. Another pioneer impressionist who contributed greatly to impressionism is Pierre-Auguste Renoir who was born in Limoges, France in the year 1841 (A+E Television Networks, LLC. par 1).

Renoir initially did not start out as a painter but later became a highly regarded artist. Though at one time he struggled with painting, Renoir was instrumental at the beginning of impressionism but he later abandoned and opposed the impressionist art style. One of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s work is ” the Dance at Le Moulin de la Galett” which he did in 1876.


Impressionism though faced with grave challenges has succeeded in popularizing the impressionist art form and has additionally inspired other art movements in France. The impressionist art style is described as novel form of art and which to-date is considered in the world of art as a major breakthrough and phenomenon.

Works Cited

A+E Television Networks, LLC. (2012). Alfred Sisley.biography. 2012. Web. 08 Thur. 2012.

A+E Television Networks, LLC. (2012). Camille Pissarro.biography. 2012. Web. 08 Thur. 2012.

A+E Television Networks, LLC. (2012). Pierre-Auguste Renoir.biography. 2012. Web. 08 Thur. 2012.

Oak, M. (2012). History of impressionism. 2012. Web. 08 Thur. 2012. (2011). Claude Monet. 2011.Web. 08 Thur. 2012.