Blog: ARTY FACTS | The Influence of Impressionism & Facts

Are you interested to find out what impressionism art is? Read on to discover impressionism facts to help build your understanding…

What Is Impressionism?

Many people will have come across Impressionist art at some point in their lives and can likely name an artist from that movement. It was the first of the modern movements that developed in Paris in the latter part of the 19th century and was the catalyst that led to further pioneering developments in painting in the early 20th century.

At that time in Paris, artists would submit their paintings to the main art exhibition of the year, the Salon, which was the most important exhibition of the Academié des Beaux-Arts and was an open public event (after initially being open only to graduates of the academy). However, the artists that later became known as the Impressionists often had their paintings rejected by the Salon judges due to them not meeting the traditional, academic components which in the view of the conservative academy, constituted accomplished art.


Impression: Sunrise - Claude Monet

The Impressionists wanted to move away from the constraints of academy art which focused on perfection of form, 3D perspective, historical, religious and mythological subjects. They instead wanted to capture fleeting moments in time of everyday life. They believed in moving away from the studio and working outdoors since their inspiration was the effects of the changing light, colour and movement on the environment. They wanted to work quickly to paint an expression of what they were seeing in front of them which resulted in the brushstrokes being looser and expressive. The artists however were passionate about their vision and pursued their aim by forming an independent artists group and holding their own exhibitions throughout the 1870's and 80's. It was the title of a Claude Monet painting 'Impression: Sunrise' that gave the art critic Louis Leroy the idea to name his review of one of these exhibitions 'Exhibition of the Impressionists'. .



Jardin de Kew, Londres/ The Goose Keeper/ Le Boulevard Montmartre at Night - Camille Pissarro     

Impressionism Characteristics

The impressionists were interested in the new science of colour theory and began to realise the importance of pure colour and applying complementary colour in their painting (complementary colour being opposite on the colour wheel - for example orange and blue). They observed that shadows were not neutral and so depending on the level of light, the time of day and how it was reflecting on the objects in the environment, many different colours could be found.
 Two Sisters on the Terrace /  Luncheon of The Boating Party -  Pierre-Auguste Renoir                  


Montagne Sainte-Victoire -  Paul Cezanne   /     Preparation for the Class -  Edgar Degas


Impressionism Artists

The group of these independent artists that were later given the title of the Impressionists, included Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley and Paul Cezanne. Cezanne was also part of the later post-impressionist art movement that followed with artists such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. Impressionism influenced many artists and led to further significant movements and ways of seeing.

Fauvist Inspired Art At Watergate Street Gallery

The work of contemporary artists today reflects many of these pioneering movements. We have so many artists that have developed unique contemporary styles and often there will be some element of their art that can be compared to an aspect of the Impressionist movement.

For example Matt Wilde's paintings capture snapshots of people in their everyday activities and often Matt's preliminary drawings are sketched outdoors to capture the feel and movement of the scene.

Bernhard Vogel, also paints 'en plein air' to absorb the atmosphere and light. The foundations of the 19th century colour theory is evident in Bernhard's work and, as our previous blog explained, Bernhard is very much inspired by the Fauvist movement and how they developed the use of very abstracted colour palettes.

Nigel Cooke, is inspired by the fleeting moments in time and perceptions of light at different times of the day reflecting on surfaces within the city environment.

Be sure to check our art blog for more of our Arty Facts series covering all things art. In the meantime, if you enjoyed this why not head to our art collections to see all types of fine art sold at Watergate Street Gallery.


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