When Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted his Impression, Sunset (Impression, soleil levant) in 1872, he signaled a new style of art that was to be termed “Impressionism.” Although no longer thought as avant-garde, Impressionism is still a vital and important art style today. Although many artists of his time and before may have had impressionistic character to their work, Monet may rightfully called “the father of Impressionism.”
Impressionism involves capturing the physical impressions of the moment without regard for thing as an objective element. The artist is painting the qualities of something, not the thing itself. For Monet and the other impressionists, intellectual consideration of the scene diminishes the power of the painting. Impressionistic paintings are characterized by their ephemeralness and quality of light. Landscapes prove the most suitable subjects for impressionistic painting, especially plein air painting.
Monet evolved from the naturalist painters, who emphasized unaffected portrayal of their subjects, and the Barbizon artists who took painting from the studio to nature. As a student, under the tutelage of Charles Gleyre, he and other artists such Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley began to explore new ways to encapsulate natural light in their painting.
This exploration continued for Monet when he and Camille Pissarro went to England to escape the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. There they studied the works of John Constable and William Turner. In Constable and Turner they discovered new ways to portray light, and when they returned to France after they way they began incorporating this knowledge in their paintings.
A comprehensive article on Monet with many pictures.
►Claude Monet Gallery
The complete catalog and images of all of Monet's paintings.
All about Giverny and information about Monet's home, garden and museum.