Interesting Facts about Famous Impressionists

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Impressionism was an art movement that started in the 19th citrusy. It created some controversy in the beginning, especially as it defied several of the classic and traditional rules of art at the time. Impressionist artists wouldn’t paint a complete reflection of what they saw, but rather focused on conveying their own impressions of landscapes or portraits. They would try to capture light, movement, and other elements to properly show what their eyes saw. They also used thin, visible brushstrokes instead of trying to create a whole, smooth appearance.

We may have heard of several Impressionist artists—Monet, Renoir, Manet, etc—but might not know much about them. If art interests you in any way, read on to find out some interesting facts about the most famous Impressionists !

1. The Impressionists Movement Started in 1874

The Origins of impressionism date back to the 19th century. It started with a movement characterized by paintings that depicted the transience of light and the scenes from modern life. The basis of the Impressionist movement relied on the fact that paintings should show the ever-changing conditions of light. 

In 1874, a small group of artists comprising painters, printmakers, and sculptors held an art exhibition in Paris. The exhibition showcased paintings that were different than contemporary ones. The Impressionists movement started with its founding members Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. [1] 

2. Impressionist Paintings Stand Out From Others in Various Characteristics 

Some of the most noticeable characteristics of an impressionist painting are:

  • Loose brushwork with fluent strokes 
  • Broken colors 
  • Inaccurate but relaxed painting 
  • Compositions of the people in the painting 
  • The way the fleeting environment is perceived and portrayed in the painting 

3. Claude Monet was the First Impressionist Artist to Start the Movement 

The first-ever impressionist painting, “Impression, Sunrise,” was painted by Claude Monet in 1872. His painting stirred controversy among the contemporary artists of that time. Although Monet had a number of his other paintings accepted by the Salon, the first impressionist painting was rejected.

He and several other like-minded Parisian artists then got together in 1874 and started the Impressionist movement. Facts about famous impressionist artists also tell us that Monet painted not-quite Impressionist painting of his future wife, Camille Monet, in 1873. [2]

4. A Group of Young Artists In favor Of the Impressionist Movement Used to meet at the Charles Gleyer’s Studio 

Some young artists in the 19th century preferred to paint landscapes with changing sunlight rather than historical scenes. However, their painting depicting transient lights and modern life were continuously rejected by the Salon. This group of artists advocated the realism of Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frederic Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. They used to gather at the Charles Gleyre studio in Paris and painted impressionist paintings. [3]

5. Salon des Refusés was formed in 1863

After noticing a large amount of creative work being continually rejected, Emperor Napoleon III declared that the public would be the judge of the artists’ works. Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of rejects) was formed. It attracted more visitors than the previous contemporary Salons. [3]

6. The Name Impressionist Was Given By Critics as an Insult 

As the Salon jury was adamant about rejecting every piece of painting that offered a paradigm shift from the age-old techniques of arts, the critics insultingly called these paintings Impressionist. The name became common, and later a movement in art also started by this name. 

7. Edouard Manet was the Inspiration of Most Young Impressionists

Most young aspiring artists of the 19th century were inspired by the famous Edouard Manet. He was a well-known artist and had his studio near Café Geurbois. All the impressionist artists active in the movement used to gather around this cafe. [11]

8. Only Thirty Artists Joined the First Impressionist Paintings Exhibition 

Young impressionists held their first-ever painting exhibition in April 1874. It was marked as the first step toward a significant artistic movement. However, only thirty artists joined the event in 1874. [1]

9. Anonymous Cooperative Association of Painters was formed in

In 1874, some like-minded and passion-driven artists formed the Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers. Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro were the founding members of this association. [1]

10. Some Impressionist Artists Sought Refuge in England during the War 

During the Franco-Prussian war, some young impressionist artists escaped to preserve their works and continue the process of creativity in a calm environment, including Alfred Sisley.

11. The Impressionist Movement Became Global 

Only after a few years of holding the first-ever impressionist painting exhibition and founding associations, such as the Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, the impressionist movement became global. 

It had started in France, but soon the works of notable impressionist painters gained popularity across the globe. [1]

12. Most of the Impressionist paintings are in Musee d’Orsay 

Musee d’Orsay is a beautiful art gallery built in a stunning Beaux-Arts train station that opened in the 1900s. It is worth visiting by every art lover and fans houses the most extensive collection of Impressionist paintings of all the big names in the arts. It holds famous impressionist paintings of Monet, Manet, Morisot, Renoir, and Pissarro. [4] 

13. Major Impressionist Paintings Entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1889

As the uproar of the impressionist movement took a toll and the movement spread beyond France, these impressionist paintings were accepted by numerous prestigious museums in countries like the US. The Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed the works of prominent impressionist artists for the first time in 1889. [5] 

14. The Worth of Impressionist Paintings Differs According to the Artists 

The net worth of great impressionist paintings varies according to their work and creativity. Claude Monet’s Water Lilies painting is estimated to have a net worth of about $54 million. On the other hand, “Impression, Sunrise” – the landmark impressionist painting by Monet that initiated the impressionist movement, is worth approximately $250-350 million. [6]

15. Paul Cezanne was a Famous Post-Impressionist

Paul Cezanne was a famous French painter whose work was inspired by Impressionists. The public discredited his work during most of his lifetime. He was one of the most creative and perceptive artists who emphasized the artist’s personal expression in painting and strongly challenged the conventional painting esthetics. [7]

16. Three Famed Impressionist Artists Make It to the Top Ten Artists Globally 

The extensively creative and perceptive works of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edouard Manet have made them reach the heights of fame and glory. They are included in the top ten worthy impressionist artists of all time. [16]

17. Natural Light and the Changing Of Shadows on the Object Were the Prime Focus of Impressionists 

Impressionist artists used to work outside in the open air to create marvelous works. Natural light was the prime prerequisite for impressionist artists, as they portrayed transient light in their paintings. [1]

18. Impressionists Challenged the Conventional Ideas of Painting in the 19th Century

Before impressionism, paintings were inspired mainly by historical scenes. Impressionists challenged these ideas of paintings by preferring to paint modern life and women instead of landscapes. [1]

19. Some Impressionists Used Bridges as the Symbol of Impression 

Some famous impressionist artists, such as Sisley, Pissarro, Monet, and Cezanne, focused on painting bridges. These artists decided on bridges as their impressionist symbol.  [15]

20. Paul Cezanne’s Paintings Were Rejected 28 Times

Paul Cezanne’s paintings were rejected by the Salon (a council that determined which artwork would be displayed) 28 times before they finally accepted him. After these rejections, Cezanne quit painting altogether and returned to his hometown, where he worked as a banker while still considering himself an artist. [8]

21. Edgar Degas – Son of a Rich Father

Edgar Degas was born into a wealthy family and could have pursued any career he wanted, but he chose to paint. He was forced to seek out subjects from the Parisian working class after his father’s death left him without an allowance. [9]

22. Edouard Manet’s Crush

Edouard Manet had a crush on writer Emile Zola but then married his best friend, Suzanne Leenhoff, who was also his piano teacher and the mother of his son, Leon. [14]

23. Impressionist Art Was Called “Vulgar” and “Tasteless”

Famous Impressionists like Monet and Renoir were not always recognized as the geniuses we know them as today. In fact, when the first Impressionist exhibition was held in 1874, it was a flop! Many of the works were rejected, and reviews of the show were scathing. Critics called the paintings “vulgar” and “tasteless”! [13]

24. Claude Monet’s series of Water Lilies

Claude Monet’s series of Water Lilies paintings were painted during his recovery from cataract surgery, which left him unable to see colors properly for the remainder of his life. [10]

Conclusion

The Impressionist Movement had its struggles, but it’s now held up as one of the most influential artistic movements to date. The famous painters we’ve discussed above are revered and preserved in history, while their works are worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars. The facts above are just a start; make sure to read up on more about these legends if you’re interested in art!

References 

  1. Samu, M. (2004, October). Impressionism: Art and Modernity. Retrieved from Metmuseum.org website: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm
  2. Seitz, W. (2019). Claude Monet – First Impressionist paintings. In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Monet/First-Impressionist-paintings
  3. Impressionism. (n.d.). Impressionistsgallery.co.uk. http://impressionistsgallery.co.uk/periods/impressionism.html
  4. Musée d’Orsay | 19 Must-See Paintings | Paris Insiders Guide. (n.d.). Www.parisinsidersguide.com. https://www.parisinsidersguide.com/musee-d-orsay-must-see-paintings.html
  5. (2020). Metmuseum.org. https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/history
  6. Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise | ImpressionistArts. (n.d.). Impressionistarts.com. https://impressionistarts.com/claude-monet-impression-sunrise
  7. Huyghe, R. (2019). Paul Cézanne | French artist. In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Paul-Cezanne
  8. His life. (n.d.). Aix-En-Provence, Ville de Cezanne. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://www.cezanne-en-provence.com/en/cezanne-paul/his-life/
  9. Edgar Degas. (2017). Edgar-Degas.org. https://www.edgar-degas.org/biography.html
  10. Anderson, A. (n.d.). How eye disorders may have influenced the work of famous painters. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/how-eye-disorders-may-have-influenced-the-work-of-famous-painters-92830
  11. The Art Story. (2012). Impressionism Movement Overview. The Art Story. https://www.theartstory.org/movement/impressionism/
  12. Life, C. (2017, October 17). How the French impressionists came to fall in love with London. Country Life. https://www.countrylife.co.uk/luxury/art-and-antiques/french-impressionists-in-london-167109
  13. Duret, T., Flitch, J. E. C. (John E. C., & Harold B. Lee Library. (1910). Manet and the French impressionists: Pissarro–Claude Monet–Sisley–Renoir–Berthe Morisot–Cézanne–Guillaumin. In Internet Archive. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott company. https://archive.org/stream/manetfrenchimpre00dure/manetfrenchimpre00dure_djvu.txt
  14. Édouard Manet – Mature life and works. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edouard-Manet/Mature-life-and-works
  15. hoakley. (2019, July 14). Bridges in paintings: Impressionism. The Eclectic Light Company. https://eclecticlight.co/2019/07/14/bridges-in-paintings-impressionism/
  16. Parblo Tech. (2019, July 2). 5 Famous Impressionist Artists and Their Masterpieces. Parblo; Parblo. https://www.parblo.com/blogs/guides/5-famous-impressionist-artists-and-their-masterpieces

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