What Is Impressionism? (A Simple Definition of the Impressionism Art Movement)

Impressionism art is a type of art that originated in the 1860s, in Paris, France.

The artists who started this type of art were trying to break away from the traditional rules of painting. They wanted to create art that was more about how they felt about a subject, rather than how it actually looked.

Some of the techniques that Impressionist artists developed included using lighter colors, and painting quickly so that the brushstrokes would be visible.

This style of painting is called after the French word for “impression,” because the paintings look like an impression of what the artist sees, rather than a realistic copy.

‎Beginnings of Impressionism

Impressionism is a style of art that emerged in the late 1800s and was characterized by its use of light and color to create an effect of immediacy and movement.

The term “impressionism” comes from the title of one of Claude Monet’s paintings, “Impression, Sunrise (1872)”, which was exhibited in 1874.

This new approach to painting was met with criticism from the art establishment. However, the public loved the fresh, modern look of impressionist paintings, and the style quickly became popular.

Today, impressionist paintings are some of the most beloved and recognizable works of art in the world.

Content & Composition in Impressionism

Before the impressionism art movement, the artist would often try to capture reality as accurately as possible. This was especially true for artists during the Renaissance.

In contrast to earlier types of art, impressionist artists did not try to capture reality in a realistic manner.

Instead, they sought to capture the fleeting moments and impressions that they saw around them. They started painting outdoors, using light and color to capture impressions of the world around them.

Women Impressionists

Impressionists, and while they included both men and women, several of the most famous members were women.

Among these was Mary Cassatt, an American painter who moved to Paris in 1874. She quickly became friends with several of the leading Impressionists, including Edgar Degas.

Cassatt often painted domestic scenes featuring mothers and children, using light brushstrokes to create a sense of intimacy.

Another well-known woman Impressionist was Berthe Morisot. Like Cassatt, she came from a wealthy background and was able to support herself financially as an artist.

Impressionism Beyond France

Impressionism is often thought of as a distinctly French art movement.

However, the style of painting characterized by short brushstrokes, light colors, and an emphasis on capturing a moment also took root in other countries. Artists working in Russia, the United States, and Japan all created works in the Impressionist style.

In America, Impressionism first gained popularity in the 1870s when a number of American painters studied abroad in France.

What Is the Main Idea of Impressionism?

The main idea of impressionism is to capture a momentary image of a scene. Impressionists were not concerned with creating perfect likenesses of their subjects; instead, they sought to capture a fleeting moment or feeling through their artwork.

In other words, the impressionists believed that art should be about the immediate visual experience, and not about the detailed reality behind it. They wanted to show how an object or scene appeared to them at a certain moment, rather than trying to recreate every single detail exactly as it was.

Some of the most famous impressionist painters include Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edouard Manet, and Alfred Sisley. These artists often painted outdoors, and their work is characterized by its lightness and bright colors.

What Are the 5 Characteristics of Impressionism?

Although there are more, here are just 5 of the main characteristics of impressionism:

  • In painting, Impressionism is characterized by small, distinct brushwork that are often painted outdoors.
  • The artists typically use pastel colors, and the paintings were light and airy with an emphasis on capturing the momentary effects of sunlight.
  • The subjects of Impressionist paintings often depict ordinary scenes of everyday life, such as landscapes, cafés, and people in parks.
  • Impressionist paintings are often characterized by their soft, dreamlike qualities.
  • The Impressionists were interested in conveying a sense of immediacy and spontaneity rather than creating a highly detailed and polished work of art.

Overall, the focus on capturing the momentary effects of light and color makes impressionist paintings seem more like snapshots or moments in time than traditional portraits or landscapes.

Overview: What Defines Impressionism Art?

In the 19th century, a group of artists in France began experimenting with a new style of painting. They were influenced by the artistic movements that came before them, but they wanted to create something different. These artists became known as the Impressionists.

Impressionism is characterized by its use of light and color.

The Impressionists were interested in capturing the feeling of a moment, rather than creating a realistic representation of it. They often painted outdoors, and their paintings are filled with sunlight.

The Impressionists were not well-received by the art establishment at first. But over time, their work has come to be appreciated for its beauty and uniqueness.

Today, Impressionist paintings are some of the most popular and valuable works of art in history.

To learn more about Impressionism, check out the video below:

Impressionism in 8 Minutes: How It Changed The Course of Art | Curious Muse