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HISTORY OF PAINTING: Impressionism, Artists of Here and Now

If we are to name anything as the corner stone of modern art, the movement of impressionism would have a better claim than any other things. The movement of new style of painting that was developed in last quarter of nineteenth century had its own peculiarities.

Impression, soleil levant, by Claude Monet

What Is Impressionism?

Impressionism was a statement of some of the revolutionary artists. These artists mainly came from European countries. It was the piece of time on which the Tuberculosis was fatal and deviating from mainstream of art was like virtual death for an artist. But the impressionist artists spoke out in protest of the ‘set rules’, which were ruling the art world of the day. These brave artists painted in the open air instead of confining themselves within the four walls of studios. They adored and painted the daily life and ordinary looking landscapes. The viewers and art lovers liked these paintings, as they felt themselves attached with this form of art. Use of bight colours, applying the short brush strokes, and near exact representation of the effects of the light falling on the objects: these were the main ingredients of the impressionism.

The Artists : J. M. Turner of England or Jan Vermeer can be taken as the artists who had shown the signs of the new style of painting that would be called impressionism. Turner was an artist who had experienced to defuse the effects of light falling on the objects to be painted.

A Bart at the Folies-Bergere –by Edouard Manet (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Jan Vermeer, a Dutch painter, had adored genre painting by depicting the life of common people; he had used the sharp use of light and shadows to make his painting looking realistic. Impressionist painters like Renoir and Manet had given an identity to the colours they used. While going onto canvass, through their brushes, the colours would get more pictorial power and visual balance. Such were their artistic prowess; such were their dedication to the art. They injected a special mood into each and every painting of them; may it be landscape painting or paintings of cityscape in water colour.

Impressionism Vs Invention of Photography

Theme: Impressionist painters facing challenge of the technological developments of photography.

The second half of the nineteenth century had witness two parallel developments: one in the sector of the arts and another in the technology concerning the art. There had been emergence of the photography in this spell of time; and on the pure scientific and technical sphere there had been progress about knowing the properties of light and colour. In a way, these developments had challenged the strength of the art of painting. But there had been befitting respond from the then artists. The name of this response was ‘Impressionism movement’ of art.

Dance in the City Oil on Canvas -by Renoir

It was beyond doubt that the inventions and rapid developments in the field of photography was not a small challenge to the painters of late nineteenth century. People and some of the clients who preferred portraits and paintings on their walls were changing their preference in favour of new and the cheap medium of art, the photographs. The artist those who were working under the umbrella of impressionism did not lost the golden opportunity that the developments in the field of colour properties and light have emerged in the same period. They took advantages of the inventions in these fields to help their aesthetic agenda.

Here a couple is painted as dancing on a dancing floor. Those who know Renoir and his painting would immediately identify the woman as Sussane Valadon. She was artist herself and had modeled for many of Renoirs paintings. The landscape behind the dancers, painted with expressive brush strokes, represents the city atmosphere of the concurrent French cities. The colours used here are bright and pure, as if they made up the palette from which Renoir created and mixed the colours. It was customary for the impressionist artists to load their palettes and brushes to infuse the feeling of brilliancy in their paintings.

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