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The Basics of Impressionism

July 7th, 2015
Basics of Impressionism

The artistic style of impressionism that began in the 1860’s was a break from art’s past ways. Some historians say that Impressionism was a representation of an artist’s way of applying scientific principles and color theory to the study of the natural light of an outdoor painting. The idea of Impressionism was started by a group of individuals who decided to abandon the exactness and extreme detail of which the majority of artists at that time hoped to reach. Impressionists aimed to loosen their brushwork and focus on the effect that light had on objects and the atmosphere. The actual name “Impressionism” came from the famous artist Claude Monet after his painting, Impression- Sunrise was exhibited in 1874.

Even though the Impressionists were rejected from French society due to the fact that many people considered their work to be un-finished, many artists of the Impressionist Era have made history for their monumental work. Two major artists of the era, Mary Stevenson Cassatt and Pierre-Auguste Renoir are examples of this. Mary Stevenson Cassatt was a female artist from Pennsylvania who spent a great deal of time painting in France. Her famous piece, The Coiffure depicts a woman fixing her hair in front of a rectangular framed mirror, which is a slight break of traditional impressionism. Another artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was exceptional at illuminating oil paintings with unique brushstrokes to show the natural shift in light in outdoor scenery. One of his many famous pieces, Luncheon of the Boating Party, portrays men and women whose carefully painted hats stand out the depicted environment.

Impressionism has shaped the history of art and is loved by many. The Markeim Arts Center offers a variety of classes, workshops, and exhibits that will expose you to a variety of art styles. Give us a call to learn more or to enroll in a class at (856) 429- 8585 or email us at

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