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Impressionism encompasses a painting style that originated in France during the latter half of the 19th century. This artistic movement is characterized by the use of small and distinct brushstrokes, which convey a mere impression of form. Unblended colors are employed, with a particular focus on accurately depicting natural light.


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Impressionism is both an aesthetic and an artistic movement. From an aesthetic perspective, it celebrates modernity, plein air painting, rapid notation, and vibrant colors. Sociologically, it refers to a group of artists who chose to exhibit outside the official Salon between 1874 and 1886. This group most famously consisted of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Caillebotte, Morisot and Cassatt.

In 1874, the group's first exhibition took place at the premises of photographer Nadar on Boulevard des Italiens in Paris. Monet presented his work "Impression, Sunrise," which became a manifesto for the aesthetic of swiftness. The artwork caused a sensation, with critics unleashing their scorn on these artists considered as mere daubers. Thus, Impressionism (a name coined by an art critic) was born!


Bal au Moulin de la Galette, par Auguste Renoir
Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Auguste Renoir, Paris 1876 (oil on canvas) / Bridgeman Images


After 1886, the group largely disbanded, with each painter focusing on their personal career. A new generation emerged on the public scene, the Neo-Impressionists. However, Impressionism was not dead; it reinvented itself. Monet continued to produce significant series of works, while Renoir returned to the genre of classical portraiture.


Le boulevard Montmartre la nuit, par Camille Pissarro
Le boulevard Montmartre at Night, Camille Pissarro, 1897 (oil on canvas) / Bridgeman Images

The most influential Impressionist paintings are those of Claude Monet. Among his most famous works are "Impression, Sunrise," "Water Lilies," and "Rouen Cathedral." Pierre-Auguste Renoir also created famous Impressionist artworks, including "Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette" and "The Loge."


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