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Impression Sunrise, 1872 — Claude Monet, Musée Marmottan Monet

The accidential genesis of a movement. 

Today, Impressionism is one of the most well known and beloved movements in Western Art. But in 1872, when Claude Monet was painting a hazy interpretation of the seaport in his hometown of Le Havre in France, the birth of a movement was far from his mind. Monet was interested in light, and the reflections of light on the water made the port a perfect subject to study. In his words, Monet painted "during dawn, day, dusk, and dark and from varying viewpoints, some from the water itself and others from a hotel room looking down over the port." It was practice — an experiement.

Two years later, Monet was organizing an independant exhibition of artists who were experimenting like him. Degas, Pissarro, Renoir, and Sisley, all contributed work painted in a new style, focused on light, and usually painted outside, thanks to the recently invented portable paint tube. When Monet was asked to name his painting, he accidentially coined a term that would define the movement. "They asked me for a title for the catalogue, it couldn't really be taken for a view of Le Havre, and I said: 'Put Impression.'"

Submitted by Reed Enger
  1. marmottan.fr
  2. wikipedia.org
Learn about the theft of Impression, Sunrise at Sartle.com

Artwork from Impressionism

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