Impressionist art is probably the single most popular genre of all purchased paintings for the home or office. It’s extremely easy art to live with, but not purely decorative. The technical brilliance of Impressionist art makes a piece like Vuillard’s Under the Trees more than just a pretty picture.
Impressionist Art, Now Mainstream, Began as Rebellion
The movement known as Impressionism was officially created in 1874, when a group of artists collectively exhibited art that shocked and appalled the academics. Rejecting the formality of the studio, these artists, which included Monet, Renoir, Morisot and Sisley, painted en plein air and concerned themselves with trying to capture the movement of light and shadow.
Monet is the grand master of Impressionist art, and his Woman with a Parasol perfectly exemplifies this aim. Everything is in movement: the grass, the woman’s dress, the clouds. It has the immediacy of a snapshot, combined with the technical precision of Monet’s use of pure color on a prepared background.
For Renoir, people were far more important than landscapes, and he particularly relished painting groups of people enjoying themselves outdoors. His work The Boating Party Lunch, for instance, captures a group of young, modern, middle-class people, each captured in their essence in one fleeting moment. For Renoir, even a relatively static portrait such as A Girl with a Watering Can has motion and change implied: she is not in the garden, really, but on the path out. He has captured that moment, that impression, for us, and she remains ever youthful and “about to be.”
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