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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Impressionist Artists

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Here’s the guy who started it all. The one who’s responsible for fuzzy, ephemeral images of water lily wallpaper, sheets, pillow cases, calendars,mugs and posters. And Claude Monet gave Impressionism it’s name by accident.

He’d exhibited a painting called : “Impression – Sunrise” (which was a view of the port of LeHavre in the morning mist)Although it’s generally assumed that Monet chose that title to convey the sketchy, unfinished nature of the work, the unfriendly art critic, Louis Leroy started referring to Monet and his pals as “Impressionists.” And – Viola! – a movement was described.

The main members of Monet’s posse were Renoir, Pissarro, and the Englishman Alfred Sisley.(The English never stopped invading France. They just do it in different ways) Their main gig was painting outdoors.(“plein air” painting.) The idea being that with their rapid brush strokes and high key colors they could capture the subtle nuances of changing light, plus add their personal stimulus from the scene.

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Water and Social outings associated with it, figured big time in their painting agenda.(Renoir’s “The Boating Party”, for example.) This contemporary subject matter, particularly Paris and the surrounding countryside(Read – weekend escape spots for stressed out city dwellers!) means that Edgar Degas(“The Dance Class”) and Edouard Manet(“Djeuner sur l’herbe”) must also be included.

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Although he never exhibited with Monet and Co., Manet had a taste for similiar subject matter, and was an important influence on the younger impressionists. Later impressionists(after 1876) included Paul Cezanne, Paul Gaugin, and the only American on the scene, Mary Cassatt.

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The most celebrated(as in “famous”)successful impressionist, was, as you may have guessed, Monet. At the top of his game, he was literally, as well as figuratively “made in the shade”, having installed himself in a huge water garden heavy mansion in the village of Giverny, North(ever so slightly) West of Paris.There, his subject matter was a few steps out the door. And so, his artistic output, and his waistline increased. Even at his slimmest, Claude was never destined to be a Jenny Craig poster boy.

But, sadly, for every “fat n’ happy” story, there is a corresponding “skinny and miserable” one. The Impressionists contribution to this Artistic and personal sadness, was Alfred Sisley, the English boy in the band. How far down was he? – Wellll, at one point he pleaded wth his fellow Impressionists to buy a painting so he could eat! Meanwhile, Monet’s daily challange was to tell his housekeeper what color the lunch plates should be. There jus’ ain’t no justice folks, is there?

Alan Watts, referring to life in general once declared : “Everything composed, no matter how long postponed, must eventually decompose.” And so it was with the Impressionists. Like any “movement” that starts with degrees of inspiration, high ideals and comittment to a common goal, eventually the same ole’ blue meanies, jealously, success, lack of it, rivalry, seep in. And “decomposition ” does it’s thang. For the Impressionists, this was around the early 1800’s.

Although it’s the watery/Parisian pleasures subject matter that is the Impressionists most recognizeble Artistic legacy, Da BG’s favs are the lesser celebrated scenes of “Impressionists in winter.”

Ok – there are a zillion web sites you can google to get more info on Claude and his un-indicted co-conspirators. What you can’t get on those sites, is what’s headed yer way now. An up close n’ personal “been there/done that/you should too” recommendation from da BG hisself! Its a place called : “La Reserve.” A few kilometres outside the village of Giverny. It’s a six rooms or so gite/chambre d’hote built to plans from the 18th century by one of it’s owners -Didier Brunet and one workman! Even more amazing when you see Didier. He’s so skinny, he makes me look like a Venice Beach musclehead! Didier’s wife – Marie-Lorraine has filled the rooms tastefully with period furniture. Each room unique. But none (happily) with a “theme.” Bottom Line : This is a real find! Tell ’em the BG sent ya. You can thank me later.

Anything else I can do?


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8 Responses to “French Impressionist Artists”

  1. alaister pequoit says:

    I won’t say “French Art for dummies” – what you’ve done is so much better. A factual, fun and humourous(as always) portrait(pun intended)
    of a major art movement. Kudos!

  2. betty whiteside says:

    Never knew there was an American in the Impressionists. And a Woman, no less! What gems you uncover! keep it up!!!

  3. jewel moran says:

    great to get the story behind this classic images. Well done!

  4. stuart helger-brown says:

    an englisman in the works! and an american too! perhaps “french inpressionism should be retitled : “international impressionism?”

  5. vivian hartman says:

    Love the way you keep coming up with all this new info on “familiar” subjects. Don’t stop now!

  6. Big Sis says:

    Not only did I love strolling through Monet’s gardens in Givergny, I also loved his house. The yellow dining room is especially magnificent. I have a photo of his kitchen and his wonderful, old, cook stove hanging above my own modern, California kitchen stove to provide inspiration. I’ve noticed I add dijon mustard to most of my recipes nowadays. Hmm…

  7. dylan amberson says:

    Your post gives a real personal sense to an art movement that usually is described only in terms of the work aand it’s artistic contribution. Very much appreciated.

  8. Chalam says:

    Well done!

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