Art and everyday life: Claude Monet: Impression, Sunrise

It is hard not to like impressionism paintings. The lightness that come trom any painting can easily lift anybody up! Sometimes even one can think:  “Well, ok, they look nice and eye-pleasing, but there’s nothing so special in these paintings!”

Oh, that couldn’t be more wrong. Impressionism, although very pleasant for the eye, was revolutionary style of art that changed the way we see art forever.

How? Let’s see in this blog.

How did impressionism start?

In the late 19th century Paris was one of the cities which had its own rules according to the art. The leading elite which set the tone, and could change the life and career of most of the artists, was the Salon des Beaux Arts. A collective of classical artists who usually got inspiration from ancient cultures or religions, historical events and showcased them in dramatical, idealised way. The artists spent much time on a painting, working on every detail, carefully crafting the piece of art for weeks or longer.

Impressionism movement started as a protest against this traditional art and the elite. Such painters as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, Alfred Sisley wanted to change the existing order and started to paint the things that fascinated them – the growing cities and everyday life of everyday people, simple perceptions of nature, beaches, hotels and parks. Their paintings also were painted in shorter time. Sometimes, similar paintings would be painted in different hours, different lights of the sun. That symbolises the change in the art – it became more spontaneous and found the beauty in everyday views or objects, or landscapes.

What is impressionism like?

Nature landscapes, family or friends talking in cafes; quiet views from the nearest city lake or park; people casually resting near beach on the holidays,views one could often see near hotels – that is typical theme for impressionism paintings.

Impressionism paintings are usually painted in colors which play with the different tones of natural light. Black tones are avoided, and colors are mixed as little as possible. Rather the short, thich strokes of the brush seem to look like a quick sketch-style painting, with the focus on spontaneous feeling, what leaves very fresh look.

Piece of art which symbolises the start of impressionism: Claude Monet: Impression, Sunrise.

Painted in 1872, it shows a simple view of the port Le Havre, hometown of the artist.

Quick and short strokes of the brush mix different tones of the sky above sea, capturing just a moment before the sun and the cloud colors would easily change to a completely different view. No historically important fights, no Greek goddesses, just a simple sea port with smoke coming from steamships and chimneys. A view any person can easily see every day those years. The view itself is not clear and precise, rather it leaves the feeling on how it would be, to stand there, in just a moment, and then it would change just as the everyday life passes by.

The painting firstly was show in what would later be called as “Exhibition of the Impressionists” in Paris in April, 1874. The critics of the elite wrote about the exhibition that all the pieces of art seemed to be not finished yet, like first sketches. And the name “impressions”  meant to be as a criticism, but all the artists (not only Monet, also Edgar Degas, Pierre August Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley) took it and started using it as the name of the new movement of the art.

The movement grew successfully, and all the previously mentioned artists became successful in their lifetime. The new era had started – the era where everyday life could be enjoyed and appreciated as well.

Impression, Sunrise now can be seen at the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.

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