The Impressionists: the debut

Claude Monet | autoritratto

Claude Monet , autoritratto (1886). Image source:


Considered to be the founder of Impressionism, Claude Monet is the painter of light, and sometimes I like talking about him in my posts, like when I told you the 5 things to know about Monet, or sharing his works on Facebook.

Impression. Soleil levant. (Impression. Sunrise) is one of Monet’s masterpieces, which, however, didn’t go down in history because it’s beautiful (and it is!), but because it provoked the art critic Louis Leroy to coin the term “Impressionists” in order to define a group of painter who changed forever the course of history of visual arts.

Armand Guillaumin | impressionismo

Armand Guillaumin, Tramonto ad Ivry, 1873, Museo d’Orsay – iImage source:

Who the Impressionists were

The artists who displayed their works in that historical exhibition were: Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Félix Bracquemond, Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley.

Louis Leroy didn’t make flattering comments about the 163 paintings hung on the walls of the studio of the photographer Nadar located in boulevard des Capucines in Paris in 1874 for the first exhibition of the Impressionists.
On the contrary, he would write a long article in the most important satirical review at that time, “La Charivari”, claiming that those paintings were unworthy of being described as art.
Leroy’s words are not very different from those used nowadays by art critics about contemporary art, as it happened for the latest exhibition by Ai Weiwei at the Palazzo Strozzi. But you know that artists need time to be understood, and even the Impressionists had to gain approval, until they achieved success.
The Impressionists are among the most highly rated artists at auctions, and the exhibitions displaying their masterpieces have always a lot of visitors.
This year the most important event dedicated to the Impressionists, for example, will take place in Treviso with en exhibition illustrating the Stories of Impressionism.

READ ALSO: all the events happening in Treviso which this year will host great exhibitions.

The artists, who exhibited their works at the studio of the photographer Nadar, fought with the derogatory term coined by Leroy and struggled to try to make the experts change their opinion about their style of painting.
However, they didn’t manage, and those artists would always remain the Impressionists, and even the protagonists of the movement would resign themselves to that epithet, which, as time passed by, would carry a positive meaning.
Impression. Soleil levant. (Impression. Sunrise) by Monet, then, would become the manifesto of Impressionism.
This painting portraying the port of Le Havre at sunrise, with its blurry atmosphere in which boats and ships are black spots or a little more, with that sun similar to a burning ball of fire, would become the symbol of a new style of painting, where the important thing is not the representation of reality, but the ability to capture a precise moment and fix it on canvas forever with all its emotional baggage.

Claude Monet | Impression

Claude Monet – Impression, soleil levant (1872) dettaglio. Image source:

Edgar Degas | ballerina

Edgar Degas, Ballerina con un Bouquet di Fiori (Stella del Balletto), 2013


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4 thoughts on “The Impressionists: the debut

  1. bellissimo articolo! Scritto in modo chiaro e preciso
    Adoro gli impressionisti; amo Claude Monet e la sua vita( ho letto anche alcuni suoi scritti e li trovo poetici come la sua pittura).
    Insegno da tanti anni e ai miei ragazzi cerco di trasmettere l’amore per l’arte, sicuramente farò leggere questo articolo
    Complimenti sinceri

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