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Impressionism Art

Updated on March 4, 2019
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James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Impressionist Painters

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.

"THE OLD MUSICIAN" BY MANET (1862) IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC
"THE OLD MUSICIAN" BY MANET (1862) IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC

MANET

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 above, The Old Musician, is dear to me, since it reminds me of myself! This is also a view of the urban underclass.

His painting below, 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.

"OLYMPIA" BY MANET (1863) IS IN THE MUSEE D'ORSAY IN PARIS
"OLYMPIA" BY MANET (1863) IS IN THE MUSEE D'ORSAY IN PARIS
"A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGERE" BY MANET (1882) IS IN THE COURTAULD INSTITUTE OF ART IN LONDON
"A BAR AT THE FOLIES-BERGERE" BY MANET (1882) IS IN THE COURTAULD INSTITUTE OF ART IN LONDON

MONET

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 below, Terrace at St. Adresse, shows us the personal nature of Monet's work. He is showing us what he sees. His Impression.

"TERRACE AT ST. ADRESSE" BY MONET (1867) IS IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART IN NEW YORK CITY
"TERRACE AT ST. ADRESSE" BY MONET (1867) IS IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART IN NEW YORK CITY

MORISOT

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.

"THE HARBOR AT LORIENT" BY MORISOT (1869) IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC
"THE HARBOR AT LORIENT" BY MORISOT (1869) IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC

RENOIR

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, as well as Madam 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.

"ODALISQUE" BY RENOIR (1870) IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC
"ODALISQUE" BY RENOIR (1870) IS IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC
"MADAME CHARPENTIER AND HER CHILDREN" BY RENOIR (1878) IS IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART IN NEW YORK CITY
"MADAME CHARPENTIER AND HER CHILDREN" BY RENOIR (1878) IS IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART IN NEW YORK CITY

DEGAS

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.

"L'ABSINTHE" BY DEGAS (1876) IS IN THE MUSEE D'ORSAY IN PARIS
"L'ABSINTHE" BY DEGAS (1876) IS IN THE MUSEE D'ORSAY IN PARIS

CAILLEBOTTE

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.

"ON THE EUROPE BRIDGE" BY CAILLEBOTTE (1876) IS IN THE KIMBELL ART MUSEUM IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS
"ON THE EUROPE BRIDGE" BY CAILLEBOTTE (1876) IS IN THE KIMBELL ART MUSEUM IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS
"PARIS STREET, RAINY DAY" BY CAILLEBOTTE (1877) IS IN THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
"PARIS STREET, RAINY DAY" BY CAILLEBOTTE (1877) IS IN THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

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.

"NIGHT CAFE" BY VINCENT VAN GOGH (1888) IS IN THE YALE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY IN NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
"NIGHT CAFE" BY VINCENT VAN GOGH (1888) IS IN THE YALE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY IN NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

Toulouse Latrec

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.

"AT THE MOULIN ROUGE" BY TOULOUSE-LATREC (1892) IS IN THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
"AT THE MOULIN ROUGE" BY TOULOUSE-LATREC (1892) IS IN THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
working

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