First Impressionist Exhibit Opens in Paris

April 15, 2022

On April 15, 1874, the first Impressionist art exhibition opened in Paris, France. Pioneered by Claude Monet, Impressionism is an art movement that took the French art world—and later the artistic spheres of other European countries and the United States—by storm in the 19th century. The name of the movement comes from a painting by Monet, titled “Impression, Sunrise” in English, which is considered to be the first of the style.

Impressionism grew in popularity rather quickly in part due to its contrast to realism, the prevailing artistic styling of the time, as well as to the movement-centered art exhibitions which became commonplace throughout the 1870s and 1880s. The first one of these exhibitions featured the work of Monet, of course, as well as other talented Impressionist artists such as Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Eugène Boudin, and more.

Later, the style crossed the Atlantic and was picked up by American artists, particularly artists who favored Plein air, or open-air, painting. Today, Impressionism remains easily recognizable and widely admired for its emphasis on color and brushstroke technique rather than precise shading and linework. Gardens and natural scenes, particularly at sunrise or sunset, remain the favored subjects of Impressionist practitioners; such scenery lends itself to the subjectivity of the movement, as well as to its beauty.

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