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Art Appreciation: Three Impressionist Works

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The best-known Impressionists of all times are preferably Monet and Renoir.  This particular style of art began in France somewhere around the year of 1870.  The Impressionist style considered as an attempt to capture fleeting impressions or feeling of a scene, versus realism detail.  Given the term, Impressionist, by an art critic Louis Leroy, after reviewing an exhibit in 1874 of more than 30 painters.  These 30 painters wanted to show their paintings in the Paris Salon, but denied entrance of their works.  Therefore, when Leroy printed his article, he titled it “The Exhibition of the Impressionists.”  This term was named after Monet’s painting called “Impression Sunrise (Boddy-Evans, M., n.d.).”  This paper profiles that painting, along with Renoir’s “LeMoulin de la Galette” and Manet’s “On the Beach.”

The three of these artists’ styles considered of the French Impressionism period and the subject matter for all three paintings are landscapes.  One particular landscape is nearly made-up primarily of people.  Being fixated and fascinated with capturing fleeting moments of time, before angles of light changed, they worked quickly.  The light changes, kept them captivated on how it would affect the moods, and view of their subjects.  The three of these painters each used a loose brushstroke effect that is associated with the majority of French Impressionist painters.  This was a technique out of the norm from previous art masters prior to this period, and when first introduced, it was considered taboo by the older pros.  Exampling Monet, we find that in his paintings of the water lilies in his “Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies,” he actually painted many examples throughout the day.  He used several canvases, as if experimenting until he found the lighting he most liked.

 In comparison to previous artworks, Impressionism was a clear change in style and subject.  Impressionist artists painted everyday happenings, common people.  Regardless of offers from aristocrats, to paint subject matter including them, assuring the painter of a continued income, as this was the norm of previous periods. As we continue to view Impressionism art, we look again at Monet’s “Impression Sunrise.”  This painting created in 1873, shows a rising sun painted in orange against the previous night sky.  It almost has an eerie feeling, when you see the subjects that are motionless in the foreground.  Especially with the colors of the sun and clouds, have nearly the same luminance that gives a solid explanation of the eerie contrast.  Each viewer sees the sun differently.  For most viewers, their subconscious sees the sun as nearly invisible, while their conscious mind perceives a normal rising sun.  This causes a conflict within the viewer’s perception of the painting.  As the viewer contemplates the two primitive and primate portions within their thoughts, giving them an inconsistent impression of ambiguous and poorly define movement and position.  However, had Monet painted the sun differently the interest in the painting would lose its effect (Color Vision & Art, n.d.).

Nicholas Pioch (2002) helped the viewer to see the story within Renoir’s “Le Moulin de la Galette.” This painting was done near a place of recreation and entertainment called Montmartre, in the year 1876.  It is oil painted on canvas the size of 131 x 175 cm and considered to one of Renoir’s happiest paintings, his title came from a famous pancake (de la Galette) that they served local clientele.

He loved the frivolity of the gatherings on Sunday afternoons and painted what he saw. He used unprofessional models, and the young women employed at the Montmartre along with their male friends.  Using dapple light, an Impressionist feature, he found a way to make human beings, especially women, his main subject in his art.  This particular painting was one of his many that he had repainted in smaller versions.  Looking in the foreground of the painting, the viewer sees the young woman in the striped dress.  She is a real woman and is the sister of Renoir’s regular model, Jeanne.  Her name is Estelle.  In this same painting to the left, you will see another of Renoir’s regular models, Margot.  She is dancing with the Cuban painter, Cardenas.  Included in the painting on the right, are Renoir’s friends, “Frank Lamy, Norbert Goeneutte and Georges Riviera who in the short-lived publication L'Impressionniste extolled the Moulin de la Galatea’s a page of history, a precious monument of Parisian life depicted with rigorous exactness. Nobody before him had thought of capturing some aspect of daily life in a canvas of such large dimensions.”

Manet’s “On the Beach.,” was a successful transition from realism under the instruction of Gustave Courbet to Impressionism.  Manet’s choice of subjects was of a different scene than other Impressionists’ paintings.  Choosing events and appearances of his own time, a particular painting of his called “Luncheon on the Grass” exhibited in the year 1863 at the Salon des Refuses was sighted as an enthusiastic rebellion of a younger group of artists whom included Monet and Renoir, to form the Impressionistic nucleus (Pioch, 2002).

Thus, this proclaimed him to be the first modernist painter and father of Impressionism, creating a wave of avant-garde artists.  “But it was never the whole truth about Manet-who could scarcely touch a brush to a canvas without recalling the Old Masters-and it has frequently led to a misunderstanding of the artist’s relation to the tradition whose lofty standards the 19th-century reactionaries in the French Academy accused him of violating (Kramer, 2003).”  Manet continued to encourage modern artists to seek to exhibit at the Paris Salon, although they were denied.  Being denied to exhibit at the International exhibition in 1867 at the Salon, proving to be disheartening, he took a major portion of his life savings to create private exhibits.  Major critics gave him poor reviews, yet he attracted the likes of Impressionist artist Claude Monet, and Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Manet resisted his influence on the involvement of Impressionist exhibitions, because he did not desire to be the representative of the new group since he wanted to return to exhibitions at the Salon.  He had only one formal student, and she was Eva Gonzal, who later became his sister-in-law.  Influenced by his new followers, especially the works of Claude Monet and Morisot, Manet’s paintings continued to capture the Impressionist style, which being the lighter colors, he incorporated with his distinctive use of black, which is uncharacteristic of Impressionist painting. His painting of “On the Beach” was of his wife and his brother, painted at the beach resort and fishing port, Berck-sur-Mer, where  his family and he spent a month in 1873 (Genocchio, 2008).

In summary, the style used by these three artists, referred to as Impressionism, was a style that had been rejected early on when the artists tried to submit their works to the Paris Salon since their techniques were so far from what had been previously accepted. 

Monet, Renoir, and Manet, similarly, used loose brush strokes in light colors to create their paintings of seemingly every day events and people.  In contrast, Manet, trying to break out of the Impressionistic label, tried incorporating the use of black with the lighter colors, yet his works still fit the Impressionism style. Manet took a different perspective in his work whereby he bridged the impressionism and realism gap, thus, leading to him being considered as a fake impressionist artist. More precisely, he was more of a realist whose inspiration was greatly felt by the impressionists’ generation. This was so because he embraced everyday life’s subject matter without any historical or religious connotations. His unorthodox and bold methodology towards traditional subjects, for instance, the garden scene of a nude woman interacting with men who were fully clothed was a great source of inspiration to many upcoming artists.

On the other hand, Monet’s natural light mastery made him so renowned as well as his different day time paintings whose attempt was to get a glimpse of the varying conditions (Bose & Sarathi, 1994). Monet created vibrating effects that were natural by use of unmixed colors and strokes of soft brush which produced simple impressions. This usually led to creation of images representing nature that was alive.

There are many differences and similarities that exist in the three impressionist works. To start with, Monet perfected impressionism’s footing whereas Manet laid the basis for impressionism. On the point of similarities, Manet who was eight years older than Monet greatly influenced the full development of Renoir’s and Monet’s impressionist approach through his vivid, simple and broad color use parts as well as his technique of quick brush.

 In the next place, Manet clanged onto painting his pencil sketches as well as studio drawing and this was propagated by his conservative audience preference. Moreover, this move was triggered by his refusal in exhibiting his work as one of the impressionist. On the other hand, Monet was an outdoor impressionist with a capturing obsession on color and light fleeting effects on nature. On another similarity, the two were the best friends and had great admiration on the works they both produced.

The aesthetic qualities of the impressionist works are best brought out by the tree shadows allowed by the artists to highlight the foreground of the young women as illuminated by the natural light streams. This gives a true self impression of the women. Though the three paintings portray completely different women, one bathing, one wandering and the rest in a festive gathering, they are treated equally by the artists in real impressionist approach. Meaning they are all viewed using a natural eye.

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