Blog #4 Impressionism leaves quite an Impression!

Impressionism leaves quite an Impression!

Whether you love it, hate it or fall somewhere in between the Impressionist style of painting had a profound and lasting effect on the art world. I actually enjoy looking at the Impressionist paintings especially those by Monet and Renoir whose pieces produced during the summer of 1869 and generally attributed to be the first impressionist paintings. I also really enjoy the Post Impressionist work of Van Gogh.

Impressionism enabled an artist to convey the emotional element of feeling ordinary things that was never revealed before in the meticulous and calculated Classicism or in the theatrical Romanticism. Realist painters had already initiated a huge change in style, rejecting the artificiality of Classicism and Romanticism and introducing realistic elements into academic art, emphasising the phenomenon of light, truthful and accurate depiction of the models that nature and contemporary life offer to the artist. But unlike the Impressionists they continued to adhere to the traditional rules of composition. Realism really bridged the gap between the Romantic and Impressionist movements.

The Impressionist style discouraged and abandoned the recreation of objective reality as used by the earlier Realist painters and replaced it with practice of developing one’s subjective response to a piece of work to actual experience. Impressionism really rocked the boat with their new radical style. The visible brush strokes and sketchiness of the style made critics complain that the paintings did not look finished.

I have chosen two paintings both depicting the Cliffs at Etretat. This area off the Normandy coast in France was an area that became very fashionable with Parisians and was also widely used by a great many artists including the Realist painter Courbet and Impressionist   painter Monet. I feel that these two paintings clearly show the differences between the Realist and Impressionist style.

The painting below Cliffs at Etretat after the Storm was painted in 1870 in Normandy by Realist painter, Gustave Courbet who was actually a source of inspiration to the impressionists. It is a great example of how the Realist painters painted scenes as they appeared. This is painting is true to nature depicting the details of the rugged cliff face and the definition of each wave and cloud. It is realistic view of the picturesque location.

Claude Monet actually painted more than 60 paintings at Etretat but the one I chose to look at is The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset, which he painted in 1883 at Etretat, Normandy.

You can see in Monet’s painting is far more or an impression than a realistic view. His focus of attention is on the effects of light and the reflections on the constantly changing surface of the water. Instead of focusing on the reality of the scene as Courbet does he portrays the emotion of what he observed as he looked over the water. There are many different brush strokes creating the impression of movement on the waters surface.



  1. kwichert Said:

    You really covered the information and gave a great example of two paintings of the same place in different styles. You did a good job of defining and giving an understanding to the styles.This was very informative with detail and thought to your comparisons. Great job!

  2. I really enjoyed the comparison between Realism and Impressionism that you were able to display. To see the same subject painted through the eyes of two different artists is quite profound. Very well done.

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