Bather Arranging Her Hair
Image courtesy of
The National Gallery of Art, U.S.A
Impressionism arose out of the political turmoil in France during the early 1870s. Impressionism is thought to have begun with Manet, a man with realistic intents, but inspired the change towards the blurred out images of this movement. Manet painted daring images of the female nudes that scandalized Paris, leading to one of the greatest art revolutions in history.
The term "Impressionism" wasn't officially used until 1874 at an exhibition at the Salon des RefusÚs. Monet was a key Impressionist, and was known to give long titles to his artwork. For the Salon des RefusÚs exhibit, he shortened one of the titles to Impression: Sunrise which received a lot of attention from critic Louis Leroy. It was then that Impressionism was born, and at that exhibit that the group known as the Impressionists were formed.
Effect on Faces and Figures:
Impressionism was about experimentation. While previous movements led to more realistic appearances in painting, Impressionism was set to break the rules. The paintings during that time contained a feathery stroke to give the paintings a light and airy texture and contained bold colors. The colors were separate, no longer were shades blended together to great one smooth image, but they perceived an element known as the "circle of confusion," which refers to the image being obscure up close, but seemingly realistic from afar.
The Impressionists worked closely together. New inventions such as pre-mixed paint and portable easels allowed the artists to work outside more frequently, making landscapes a common subject of Impressionist artwork. However, Impressionism still had a profound effect on portraits and figure. Impressionists such as Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, and Degas used modern life as their subject rather than historical events or idealized scenes. Their approach on figures and portraits broke free of the formal poses and created a style where the subject was in their casual poses, without knowledge that they were being drawn.