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The origin and characteristics of impressionism an art movement developed by claude monet

Degas began as a classical realist - see The Bellelli Family 1858-67 - then developed his own style of Impressionist genre painting, focusing on racehorse - see Race Horses in front of the Stands 1866-8 - women at their toilette - see Woman Combing Her Hair - and working women - see Women Ironing 1884. Paul Cezanne is arguably the most difficult painter to classify in terms of style. He began as a realist, moved over to Impressionism due to Pissarro's influence - see, for instance The House of the Hanged Man 1873 - and later developed his own idiom of 'abbreviated Impressionism', notably in portraits and genre works such as: Impressionism in the Rest of Europe Scientific discoveries sometimes occur simultaneously in several countries.

Somewhat in the same way the thought underlying Impressionism was a phenomenon of the period and it is interesting to notice to what extent it appeared in countries outside France at about the same time. In Italy the Florentine Macchiaioli art movement 1855-80 and thederiving from the events of 1848 appears to correspond to French Impressionism, though it was not directly related.

Nineteenth century Florentine painters had a technique of applying rich and low-keyed colours with an Impressionistic handling. The Macchiaioli, supported by one of their theorists Adriano Cecioni, aimed at rendering the impression of visual truth as seen from a distance.

They painted in colour tones distributed in blobs, and it was the tone which gave a feeling of depth. Giovanni Fattori and other Macchiaioli tried a new method for representing form, which no Italian could completely ignore.

They made use of both colour and brush work; the brush was used broadly and with directional strokes to suggest volume. French and Italian artists almost met in their new taste for colour: They also used similar brush work. Serafino De Tivoli 1826-92 travelled widely and introduced foreign ideas into Florentine thought, especially that of the emphasis on light.

Giovanni Boldini 1842-1931 was one of the most audacious of the Macchiaioli.

  • Impressionist aesthetic awareness spread beyond the art world, influencing music and literature;
  • They arranged their compositions in such a way that the main subject commanded the viewer's attention;
  • Belgium and Holland echoed all the French artistic developments of the century and played their part in the Impressionist movement.

Whilst in Italy he used broken brush work to give an illusion of movement. When he came to France, strange as it may seem, he would have nothing to do with Impressionism.

Working in France he produced pedestrian pictures which were as superficial as they were contrived. Similarly the early style of Giuseppe de Nittis 1846-84 was related to the Macchiaioli.

He met Degas in Paris and became influenced by Impressionism. His interpretation of this new style remained an entirely personal one: Federigo Zandomeneghi 1841-1917 was probably the most Impressionist of all the Italians, and while still in Florence he distinguished himself among his contemporaries with his study of light.

When he came to Paris he met Manet, Degas, Renoir and Pissarro, with whom he exhibited, but his Venetian background was always visible in his work. In Spain the modern developments of landscape and the treatment of light were discovered by Martin Rico and Aureliano de Beruete. These three were very much influenced by the Barbizon school.

Despite the fierce individuality of Spanish artists they were not unaware of French developments. The Basque painter, Zuloaga, in his early style, made use of the Impressionist technique. The liberation of Spanish painting was, however, largely due to the work of Joaquin Sorolla Y Bastida 1863-1923.

In Madrid he led the way towards spontaneous outdoor painting, being followed by Dario de Regoyos, Joaquin Mir, and Herman Anglada-Camarosa, and those who were later to be known as the '1910 generation', in particular Francisco Merenciano, whose work represents the last flicker of Spanish Impressionism.

German artists had the opportunity of seeing paintings by the French Impressionists when an exhibition of their work was held in Munich in 1879.

Some artists who had already met the Realism of Courbet and Manet knew what to expect at this exhibition. Franz von Lenbach 1836-1904 and Anton von Werner, who were academic painters, failed to grasp its significance. In Italy the new aesthetic of light had come up against a tradition of form; in Germany it was to meet the deeply ingrained tradition of draughtsmanship and graphic art.

  • He met Degas in Paris and became influenced by Impressionism;
  • The late works of Lovis Corinth 1858-1925 were painted with a violent and brutal technique.

The conflict was between 'colour-space' and analytical line. In Germany, Impressionism had its strongest influence in Berlin.

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Max Liebermann 1847-1935 went beyond the plein air work of T. He was inspired by the example of Manet and Degas and, with the exhibitors of the Sezession, approached Impressionist colour and movement; but his work always retained a certain coldness.

The late works of Lovis Corinth 1858-1925 were painted with a violent and brutal technique. In his work matter itself seemed to vibrate as a result of his complete understanding of light and air. Max Slevogt 1868-1932the Bavarian Impressionist, could not bring himself to renounce line; but Emil Nolde 1867-1956in one sweep, leapt the gulf separating Manet and van Gogh.

Impressionism reached Switzerland in the works of A. Baud-Bovy and the symbolist Arnold Bocklin 1827-1901. Belgium and Holland echoed all the French artistic developments of the century and played their part in the Impressionist movement. Holland with its damp climate and clouded skies was visited by several Impressionists. Johan Barthold Jongkind 1819-1891 was Dutch and was also one of the earliest of the Impressionists who joined the others in France.

Van Goghtoo, was Dutch; his art was created by contact with the Impressionists in France; his Impressionism ended up closer to 1900s German Expressionism than any French idiom.

England, like Holland, made a number of contributions. Pissarro and Monet came here and found inspiration in the mists and fogs and rain of northern Europe; they also discovered the work of Turnerwhich filled them with enthusiasm.

Sisley and Walter Sickert 1860-1942 - leader of the Camden Town Group - were Englishmen; Dieppe especially attracted Sickert, whose art was immensely enriched by the influence of Degas and Whistler. In Denmark the most important Impressionist was P. Kroyer 1851-1909who has been described as the virtuoso of diffused light. Also important was Vilhelm Hammershoi 1864-1916 the Intimist genre-painter noted for his muted interiors in blues and greys.

Swedish painters not only gathered in the country at Grez sur Loing. A group of them looked towards the new Paris of the Batignolles.

Impressionism

In Norway Impressionism took the form of a great interest in the painting of moving waters. Edvard Munch 1863-1944 and Erik Werenskiold were figure painters. Munch began as a pupil of Bonnat and then was for some time under the influence of Cezanne, Degas and the symbolist Odilon Redon 1840-1916. Outside France, Impressionism arrived slowly.

  • During that time they continued to develop their own personal and individual styles;
  • Impressionism in literature usually refers to attempts to represent through syntactic variation the fragmentary and discontinuous nature of the sensations of modern, particularly urban, civilization;
  • Johan Barthold Jongkind 1819-1891 was Dutch and was also one of the earliest of the Impressionists who joined the others in France;
  • The sudden change in the look of these paintings was brought about by a change in methodology;
  • They also used similar brush work;
  • Degas began as a classical realist - see The Bellelli Family 1858-67 - then developed his own style of Impressionist genre painting, focusing on racehorse - see Race Horses in front of the Stands 1866-8 - women at their toilette - see Woman Combing Her Hair - and working women - see Women Ironing 1884.

It frequently became confused with subsequent movements such as Pointillism and Italian Divisionism. There was a general mix-up of French styles, frequently mingled with an indigenous and opportunity-seeking academicism.

Impressionism continued to influence countries outside France as late as the First World War. Pankiewicz continued the Impressionist style until his death in 1940. In Russia, the new style was adopted by groups like World of Art and the Wanderers group of landscape artists.

Impressionism in America and Australia Impressionism was not confined to Europe. He was in fact more a cosmopolitan in that his ancestors were Portuguese, French and Jewish and they had settled on a Danish island.

In Australia, the Impressionist style - exemplified by the Heidelberg School near Melbourne and practiced by Tom Roberts 1856-1931Arthur Streeton 1867-1943Charles Conder 1868-1909 and Fred McCubbin 1855-1917 - was much closer to the naturalism of Bastien-Lepage than the ultra-loose brushwork of Monet. For more on the impact of Impressionism, see the following articles: