Developed in France back in the 19th century, impressionism has given rise to some of the most notable artistic talents the world has ever seen.
From Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir to Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, impressionism is based on the practice of painting outdoors and using small, thin brush strokes to capture the beauty and essence of Mother Nature.
With this in mind, it comes as no real surprise to learn that a number of impressionist paintings feature sunsets as their subject matter of choice, so we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the most well-known impressionist sunset pieces that have been created by leading artists from all over the globe.
Grainstacks At Giverny, Claude Monet
Representing the prosperity of the village in which he lived, Monet captures the warming rays of the early morning sun as it sets behind dome-shaped haystacks.
A quintessentially rural scene, this painting is one of a series of pieces created by the artist as part of his haystacks collection. It features warm tones and soft hues to create shadows thrown by the imposing stacks for a summery feel.
Sunset at Sea, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
A leading French impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir uses heavy layers of colours to create an atmospheric depiction of the sea as the sun begins to set beneath the waves.
With delicate pinks, blues, browns and the occasional grey, the artist uses a tiny boat as a vehicle to draw the eye into the centre of the painting and to create a sense of serenity and calm.
Coastal Landscape at Sunset with a View of Cabourg, Edgar Degas
One of a small number of pastel drawings from 1869, this impressionist representation of the Normandy landscape captures the transient nature of light as the darkness begins to creep into the scene.
This piece is characterised by the intentional absence of people or buildings, conveying feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Interestingly, these pieces were never exhibited during the artist’s life and remained undiscovered in his studio until after his death in 1917.
Boats at Sea, Sunset, Edouard Manet
Another impressionist representation of the Normandy Coast, artist Edouard Manet intentionally excludes any illusion of depth and cuts of the main boat motif of the frame by choosing only to capture the hull of the vessel.
Thought to have been inspired by Japanese woodblock prints exhibited at the 1867 World Fair, Manet chooses to use the scattered light and colour harmonies favoured by oriental artists of the period to create the stirring and thought-provoking piece.
Visit our gallery for inspirational sunset paintings by our artists.
Featured artwork: “Here Comes the Night” by Ian Stewart