Posted by Penny Tristram
Fudge Boxes and Hotel Rooms
You’ll be familiar with impressionist paintings from fudge boxes and hotel rooms walls around the world, yet this most ubiquitous and inoffensive of painting styles was once a radical movement that shocked the French art establishment.
Rather than trying to show reality in a photographic style, the impressionists wanted to give an “impression” of a more authentic experience of reality, by depicting the interplay of movement, light and colour. Impressionist paintings are very painterly – this means that they are loosely painted with visible brush strokes. There’s often a strong focus on light, colour and shadow, as opposed to line and form.
The 1874 Exhibition
The term “impressionism” comes from Claude Monet’s painting titled “Impression, Sunrise” (pictured), exhibited in 1874, and here’s how it happened.
In 1874, a group of artists in Paris calling themselves the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers etc. put on an exhibition. The society included (now) great names such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro.
The critical response was mixed, and Cezanne and Monet came in for the harshest critical scrutiny. A scathing review appeared in the newspaper Le Charivari that was critically titled “The Exhibition of the Impressionists”, of which the gist was that the works were merely impressions of real art, and could not be considered any more than sketches.
The artists, who were unified by a spirit of rebellion and independence, accepted the name, and it quickly gained ground with the public. Although the newspaper article title was intended to deride, it gave the movement name which has stuck fast for over a hundred years, and is now associated with some of the greatest and most valuable paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Image Sources: Wikipedia