Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Monsieur Monet

Most of us know of Claude Monet (1840-1926), the artist most associated with "Impressionism." Did you know that the term for the art and artists of this era was taken from one of his paintings?

Monet painted a sunrise and titled it, "Impressions, Sunrise." It was exhibited with other artists' works who were considered radical. (In this case, radical meant outside of the rules of painting as described by the Art Academy.) An art critic reviewing the show, used the word "impressions" as a disparaging comment. These so-called radical artists relished the new movement as being considered impressionistic and so Monet's painting of color and light gave name to the this period.

Monet's interest in impressionism never wavered. Since one of the major aspects of impressionism is the effects of light on subjects, Monet would often paint the same subject repeatedly in order to capture the ways that light changed the view of the subject. He made many paintings of a haystack, poplars, and the cathedral at Rouen. The repeated subject for which he is most famous were the gardens of his home in Giverny.

Below are some of his repeated subjects of the cathedral and the Japanese bridge in his garden as he painted them during different times of day.


  1. That's really interesting about the origins of the term impressionism. I always thought it was because the paintings are not delineated so tightly... you know, leaving an impression of a subject. I really enjoy your weekly art info. Don

  2. Another 'I never knew that' moment. I agree with Don regarding the way the term originated. It's a blessing that there were artists who were brave enough to go against the "correct" way of painting.


  3. Remarkable isn't it? MAR

  4. Glad I live now instead of then. Of course no one would have even bothered to form an opinion of what I do back then. Carol

  5. Interesting, I too thought Impressionism was an impression of a subject not a literal translation. When I was a student the study of light and color or the effect of light on color in subjects was called Expressionism, expressing the light, etc. We just never know, thanks for clearing that up for me.