The Impressionists were painters in Paris who changed the way art was created, as well as the appreciation of art by the viewing public. The name appears to have been derived from a painting by Claude Monet titled Impression: Sunrise. The birth of Impressionism is generally considered to be 1874. This was the year that a group of thirty artists, whose work had been rejected by the official French Academy of Fine Arts for inclusion in the annual Salons (government sponsored art exhibitions), organized their own exhibition. The movement ended in 1886 with the last collective exhibition.
I am going to present 12 works of art created by 8 painters, not bound by the official timeline above. Instead, the paintings I will exhibit will range from 1862 to 1892. These are some of my personal favorites from these three decades.
Edouard Manet was the greatest French painter of the 1860s and 1870s. He was well educated, from a prominent family, and fascinated by modern Parisian life. His work The Old Musician is dear to me, since it reminds me of myself! This is also a view of the urban underclass. His painting Olympia features a nude courtesan. In both paintings the subject looks directly at us. His final masterpiece before his death A Bar at the Folies Bergere deals with unrequited desire across class lines; and loneliness while surrounded by people.
Claude Monet is
the most famous of the Impressionists today.
He came to Paris in his twenties from La Havre. Many of his paintings display the contrast
between the traditional and the modern, or the fleeting atmosphere of the
seacoast. His creation Terrace
at St. Adresse shows us the personal nature of Monet's work. He is showing us what he sees. His Impression.
Berthe Morisot was the first woman artist to have a career that was as successful as male artists. She was a good friend, and student, of Manet. Her work was praised by critics for its refinement, beauty, charm, and delicacy. I am presenting The Harbor at Lorient.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir may have been the most naturally gifted of these painters. He is known as one of the greatest painters of flowers in art history. His idol was Delacroix. We will view Odalisque and Madame Charpentier and her Children. The former presents us with a female slave in a Turkish Sultan's harem who served the wives and concubines. The latter shows us a world of power and prestige among the upper classes in Paris; and it was a sensation when first exhibited because of its brilliance.
Edgar Degas was born into a wealthy and important family. He was educated deeply about art; and was the master of representing the psychological conditions of modernity. He depicted down and out, low-life people in his painting L'Absinthe.
Gustave Caillebotte has not received the recognition of these others, but his painting On The Europe Bridge is a powerful representation of modernity. He was the wealthiest of all the Impressionists; was an art collector and patron; and a trained engineer. We will also take a peek at Paris Street, Rainy Day; a startlingly composed view of the urban landscape of Paris.
VINCENT VAN GOGH
Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch painter who came to Paris to see the final exhibition of the Impressionists. He became friends with many of the artists and found a mentor in Paul Gauguin. Two years later Van Gogh moved to Arles, in the south of France, to work in sunny landscapes, far from the hustle and bustle of Paris. One of his most interesting paintings is of the place he hung out at night drinking, The Night Cafe.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was the richest and most nobly born painter in the history of France. More than likely because his parents were first cousins, he suffered from a hereditary bone disease and was in poor health his entire 37 years on this earth. He loved to paint the underbelly of Paris, gathered in gaity. Our last painting is his At the Moulin Rouge.
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