In 1863 The Salon rejected 4000 paintings for the annual exhibition. The public felt screwed and artists were enraged. After Emperor Napoleon lll saw the rejected work he decided to have a new show to let the public decide for themselves. It was called Salon des Refuses (Salon of the Refused). While many hoity-toity snotty frenchies came out to laugh at the paintings, many people went and saw a new exposure to the future of painting. Word spread and The Salon des Refuses' popularity brought in more bodies than the actual Salon.
This made the country and the art establishment look pretty stupid, and while petitions were drawn up for a Salon de Refuses in 1867 and 72, they were both rejected. So later on in 1973 a few chaps who painted under Charles Gleyre organized their own organization so they could exhibit independently. These cats were Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley. Later Cezanne, Morisot and Degas joined.
Manet was pals with the future Impressionists. This painting was part of the Salon de Refuses. When it was rejected, the rejection came with bitter insults. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to have a nude woman among men in a painting, but it was shocking to have her in a genre scene instead of some biblical or historical allegorical painting. Also, including her clothes in the bottom of the painting put it over the top and the judges found it terribly obscene. Think “2 Girls One Cup”. (if you don’t know what that is, don’t look it up at work!!!)
‘ Impression — I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape. ‘
-Louis Leroy, douche-bag columnist and founder of the term “Impressionist”
They are impressionists in that they do not render a landscape, but the sensation produced by the landscape. The word itself has passed into their language: in the catalogue the Sunrise by Monet is called not landscape, but impression. Thus they take leave of reality and enter the realms of idealism."
-Jules-Antoine Castagnary, Le Siècle, 29 April 1874
Impression, Sunrise (1872)
Musée Marmottan-Monet, Paris
Oil on canvas 19 x 24 3/8"
So the focus of the painting is the FEELING, the impression that you get when looking at a sunrise; not a true recording of what was going on there. No one did that before.
The loose brushstrokes and unrefined finish of the painting made this work fodder for many brown-nosing close-minded sycophantic art critics. This painting represents a gigantic turning point in art (and IMHO, one of the only not-that-gay impressionist paintings :P). I was going to put a Monet quote in here about this painting, but it didn’t make any sense...at all.
Impressionism was a movement in painting that was signified by loose, thick brush strokes, vibrant colors, landscapes and genre pieces, mainly done as plein air paintings (it’s exactly what you think it is, I don’t know why they call it that). Monet was the rock star of Impressionism.
He wasn’t as into the pastel colors and cutesy goddamn scenes that Renoir loved so much. I’ve always found that Renoirs drawing skills were horrible and I detest his tentative brushwork, but he does have a pretty stellar grasp of light and shadow.
This is called Girl With a Watering Can . I think it should be called “Precious Looks For Puppy Lumpkins”
Sisley was mainly a landscape painter. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in this regard. Sisley’s contribution to Impressionism was his push for outdoor painting. In the past paintings were done, almost strictly in the studio. Painting landscapes while in nature gave the pieces a vibrancy and livelihood that could only be done with direct observation. Also, this affected the colors and execution of the paintings, since the suns movement constantly changed the shape and intensity of shadows, the reflection on bodies of water and the colors of the sky.
Note how the brushstrokes define the water on the left
Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (1872) Oil on canvas Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY Moseley Weir, Hampton Court (1874) National Gallery of Scotland Oil on Canvas
These are the main Impressionists aside from a focus on Monet (he gets his own day). These guys all helped define what Impressionism was and were all there for the opening exhibition. More Impressionists followed and had significant impacts on art history, so we may need to stretch Impressionism out for 2 more days. Stay tuned!
“ Landscape is nothing but an impression, and an instantaneous one, hence this label that was given us, by the way because of me. I had sent a thing done in Le Havre, from my window, sun in the mist and a few masts of boats sticking up in the foreground....They asked me for a title for the catalogue, it couldn't really be taken for a view of Le Havre, and I said: 'Put Impression .'  ”