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The Birth (And Death)of Impressionism – Part One

Reproduction de La Promenade de Claude Monet – Galerie Mont-Blanc


Early in the 1860s a few young artists began to paint modern life as they saw .They had quietly rejected the idea that art was to tell stories of religious mythology or history. They were not interested in the past.

Contrary to popular belief, Impressionism is not a style but an attitude toward the relationship between life and art that believed it should express what people care about in their daily lives.
The first impressionists were Claude Monet, Aguste Renoir Camille Pissarro and Edgar Dega. This small group of artists dared to throw off the shackles of the past creating art that was ahead of its time.

It all began early in 1873 when Claude Monet invited several of his painter friends to a meeting at his home. Money had decided it was time to find an alternative to the old system where French artists lived at the mercy of the salon jury for success at the salon ,the state-run art exhibition.

At that meeting, the painters planned a group show that would be independent of the salon. To maker their independent exhibition dream a reality,the group desperately needed money.
They began by collecting duess and looked to expand their membership.Next invited to join the group was it’s first female member ,Berthe Morriset. She would later be joined by another Female aritist, the first and only American in the group, Mary Cassatt.

Black-and-white photograph of a seated older woman with light skin. She wears a dark dress with a fur stole and long necklace. Her dark hat is adorned with a group of large, wispy feathers and covers her hair. Her expression is open and calm.


Edouard Manet, the leading avant-garde painter of the day had declined to join. He was determined to make his name at the salon idependently.
Camille pissarro was busy helping to organize the show when he got word that his nine-year-old daughter Manette was ill with a respiratory infection. The family doctor could do little and the infection grew worse. Manette died on April 6 1874.

Pissarro rejoined his friends in making final preparations for the show. They found a space for the exhibition in one of the poshest sections of town on the boulevard de kappa. Monet who happily had a good marketing instinct ,painted the view from the window.This would enable visitors to the exhibitioin to compare Monet’s painting with the actual scene of modern life below.

In contrast to the classic salon presentation, where you saw all the paintings at once,you only saw the impressionist works one at a time.
The exhibition opened on April 15th 1874 and immediately captured the attention of the art critics in fact it seemed that every art critic in Paris had something negative to say about the impressionist’s work.

One example: “what we see in the work of this school is a revolting insult to the taste and intelligence of the public.”
The painting that became the cause celeb of that exhibition was “Morning Sunrise” by Monet and the word Impressionism comes from the title of that painting When a critic said: “These are nothing but impressions.” Meaning weren’t finished works.

So it was that the group of impressionist painters had moved from anonymity to noteriety in a matter of weeks. But not selling enough to even cover their expenses, they were so disappointed that it be two years before they would exhibit again .

End of Part One.

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