Impressionist Rebels

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Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1872 – The start of the Impressionist movement

Ella and I took a brief trip to the Orsay to see some of the Impressionist paintings, while everyone else went to see Napoleon’s Tomb and the Army Museum. Understandably not our thing really.

We enjoyed a few hours just wandering through, gazing at the sites at a relaxed pace. This is the way to do it, no place to be and nothing in particular to see.

We usually enjoy impressionism, much better than realism and symbolism. She was thoroughly disgusted with Art Nouveau, which I enjoy a little but agreed to run through quickly.

I appreciate the rebel nature of the Impressionists. In 1874, they organized their own exhibition in a time this was unheard of. But they were tired of waiting on the regular routes for their work to be accepted. They needed to sell.

Several impressionists—Claude Monet, August Renoir, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley (and several others) met through classes. They called themselves the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers and set up their exhibition. 

The critics were not impressed. They termed the work “impressions,” which was an insult. 

Impressions referred to sketches not completed works, that would help the artist later to remember their ideas. They were not meant to be sold. 

Most art up to this point was of historical events. Landscapes and everyday life were not acceptable themes for a work.

Impressionist works were also focused on catching fleeting changes in light and more vibrant colors.

Thank goodness they came around; because you can only look at so many paintings of haughty nobles, naked warriors, and overly classical European Jesus’s before you need a breath of fresh air. 

P.S. Hey fellow homeschoolers, see if your kids can do an internet or art book scavenger hunt to find the names of these works and their artists!

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