In Paris April 1874 thirty artists participated in an exhibition.
The critical response was mixed.
Monet and Cézanne received the harshest attacks.
Critic and humorist Louis Leroy wrote a scathing review in the newspaper Le Charivari in which, making wordplay with the title of Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant), he gave the artists the name by which they became known.
Derisively titling his article The Exhibition of the Impressionists, Leroy declared that Monet’s painting was at most, a sketch, and could hardly be termed a finished work. …
The term Impressionist quickly gained favour with the public. It was also accepted by the artists themselves, even though they were a diverse group …
These techniques include:
Short, thick strokes of paint quickly capture the essence of the subject, rather than its details. The paint is often applied impasto.
Colours are applied side-by-side with as little mixing as possible, a technique that exploits the principle of simultaneous contrast to make the colour appear more vivid to the viewer.
Grays and dark tones are produced by mixing complementary colours. Pure impressionism avoids the use of black paint.
Wet paint is placed into wet paint without waiting for successive applications to dry, producing softer edges and intermingling of colour.
Impressionist paintings do not exploit the transparency of thin paint films (glazes), which earlier artists manipulated carefully to produce effects. The impressionist painting surface is typically opaque.
The paint is applied to a white or light-coloured ground. Previously, painters often used dark grey or strongly coloured grounds.
The play of natural light is emphasized. Close attention is paid to the reflection of colours from object to object. Painters often worked in the evening to produce effets de soir—the shadowy effects of evening or twilight.
In paintings made en plein air (outdoors), shadows are boldly painted with the blue of the sky as it is reflected onto surfaces, giving a sense of freshness previously not represented in painting. (Blue shadows on snow inspired the technique.)
Impressionists took advantage of the mid-century introduction of premixed paints in tin tubes (resembling modern toothpaste tubes), which allowed artists to work more spontaneously, both outdoors and indoors. …
Many vivid synthetic pigments became commercially available to artists for the first time …
The central figures in the development of Impressionism in France, listed alphabetically, were:
- Frédéric Bazille (who only posthumously participated in the Impressionist exhibitions) (1841–1870)
- Gustave Caillebotte (who, younger than the others, joined forces with them in the mid-1870s) (1848–1894)
- Mary Cassatt (American-born, she lived in Paris and participated in four Impressionist exhibitions) (1844–1926)
- Paul Cézanne (although he later broke away from the Impressionists) (1839–1906)
- Edgar Degas (who despised the term Impressionist) (1834–1917)
- Armand Guillaumin (1841–1927)
- Édouard Manet (who did not participate in any of the Impressionist exhibitions) (1832–1883)
- Claude Monet (the most prolific of the Impressionists and the one who embodies their aesthetic most obviously) (1840–1926)
- Berthe Morisot (who participated in all Impressionist exhibitions except in 1879) (1841–1895)
- Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir (who participated in Impressionist exhibitions in 1874, 1876, 1877 and 1882) (1841–1919)
- Alfred Sisley (1839–1899)
My favourite, van Gough, is considered a post-Impressionist. They favored an emphasis on more symbolic content, formal order and structure.