We each view the same world differently. Our perceptions of the same view in front of us can never be the same. Our impressions are colored by our individual responses to the aesthetics of a scene, whether ugly and repellent or beautiful and attractive, that are also dictated by our own mood at the time.
French Impressionist artists succeeded in capturing their individual impressions the views in front of them in paint, while working often en plein air (outdoors). Their canvases became filled with the painters' loving study of the way sunlight played on flowers, water, waves, leaves, trees and human bodies.
Our impressions of these marvelous canvases have also easily tuned in and shared the evident joie de vivre being felt by these sensitive artists in the moments that they were painting the ordinary scenes of the urban streets or the countryside in front of them. Much of the Impressionist work was in this way a sheer celebration of lives being lived in a world that is filled with daily beauty and wonder.
Who were these worshippers and celebrants of what life can give to us each day?
A group of artists based in Paris, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edouard Manet, started to hold independent exhibitions in the 1870s and 1880s, to launch their new portrayals of their world, that caused controversy by being radically different from the accepted views of traditional academic art.
Manet shocked the social contemporary art scene, and helped to launch the Impressionism revolution, with his confrontational paintings such as Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863) and this one, entitled Olympia.
The direct stare of the courtesan who is obviously comfortable with her status in life, along with other clearly recognizable sexual symbolism, proved too disturbing for Parisian art high society.
In 1863 a jury choosing work for a Salon de Paris' exhibition rejected Manet's Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) because the painting showed a nude woman with two clothed men at a picnic in a contemporary setting and not as an historical allegory.
The gentle revolution against traditional art was on.
Born in 1832 in Paris, Manet twice failed the entrance examination to join the navy. He learned painting by copying works of the masters in the Louvre, and developed his own freer style, using it to paint ordinary people such as singers, gypsies, beggars and those enjoying themselves in cafés.
While Manet's work still had remnants of the subdued colors of academic art, this work by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, entitled Young woman in a landscape, Cagnes, reveled in the new found freedom of the new art style.
It's easy to breathe in the breeze of that sunny afternoon, as does the girl who has melted into that marvelous Impressionist scene. All is vibrant and alive, like another spring or summer day in the French countryside.
As Impressionism in the visual arts also spread to music and literature, you can almost hear French composer Claude Debussy's La Mer, floating in this gracious afternoon being depicted.
The Impressionist painters created their magic by using thin visible brush strokes of oil paint to try to freely and accurately paint light: the way it dapples the scene and the way that it changes its qualities from moment to moment.
A frequent effect of this technique of painting is intense color vibration. The Zen moment is fixed for all times.
Renoir was born in 1841 in Limoges, the center of the porcelain industry in France. He painted designs on fine China before becoming a famous painter of landscape, the Paris good life and very sensual and sun-dappled nudes.
Another founder of Impressionism was Claude Monet. An earlier painting of his that was entitled Impression, sunrise, gave the name Impressionism to the movement.
Born in Paris in 1840, Monet struggled with poverty for much of his life. As an art student he drew caricatures for money, and loved to paint in the open.
Later in life, Manet moved to his home in Giverny, situated between the towns of Vernon and Gasny to the south of Rouen in France, where arguably he did his best work painting his enclosed garden with its bridges and flowers and especially the water lilies, to finally achieve recognition and commercial success.
Like German composer Richard Strauss' Four last songs, Monet's large masterpiece paintings of the surface of his pond, filled with thoughtful reflections and floating color blobs of lilies, embody the artist's sober last reflections of life, as the piece of music does for Strauss.
While criticized by the art establishment, the art public, that was at first hostile, gradually came to share, then love, the Impressionists' fresh, original and liberating vision.
We can see now how Impressionism was the precursor of various painting styles such as Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism that followed more easily from the Impressionists' jettisoning of conventions in a successful experiment to see how painting could progress.
It's easy at wahooart.com to enjoy the stages of the progress of this gentle revolution in painting and to see the resulting sun-filled canvases. Clicking Impressionism as an art style at our web site, brings up many artists, including some in the United States, who painted in that effective Impressionist style.
You can then of course order online your favorite Impressionist paintings, and perhaps, some that may be new to you, to be printed as excellent-quality canvas prints, to be delivered to your home or office.
In the same way as Manet copied works of the masters in the Louvre, wahooart.com has a staff of good artists to make reproductions of Impressionist masterpieces as hand-painted oil paintings on canvas, so that you can relive again and again the joie the vivre of the Impressionist painters in your home or office.