The Art of Blurry Vision: An Introduction to Impressionism

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To become an expert in Impressionism, it takes years. But to grasp the essence, you can focus on the main thing. So...

The term "impressionists" (from the French word "impression" meaning "impression") was originally a derogatory one.  In 1874, the journalist Louis Leroy visited an exhibition of paintings that had been rejected by the jury of the Paris Salon. Monsieur Leroy did not approve of what he saw, and in order to sting the delicate artistic souls more deeply, he came up with the disdainful term "impressionism" to describe the exhibited works. However, the artists were not at all wounded. Instead, they adopted the name "impressionists". Out of spite.

The first Impressionist exhibition took place at 35 Boulevard des Capucines. The street is very remarkable because the first public screening of a movie in history also took place there.

Impressionists painted with strokes. Therefore, their paintings should not be viewed from arm's length. Step back a little more... A little more... There you go. It turns out that those are not just blotches, but a real bridge!

 Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet


Impressionists avoided black. You can make a bet with your friend and promise them a prize for finding a black shadow in an Impressionist painting. They won't find it. Claim your winnings.

The focus was on the momentary impression. Therefore, the artists were accused of being interested in supposedly empty things like cafes, dances, picnics, etc. Philosophy was in high demand at the time, but landscapes and naked women not so much. Yes, those were strange times...

Now let's go over the artists. Take notes:

  • Manet's name was Edouard, and Monet's was Claude. Edouard Manet had a beard, as did Claude Monet. However, their artistic principles were significantly different. And so were their lives. Manet was very important to achieve official recognition, and he succeeded towards the end of his life, so Manet's funeral was more crowded than his similarly named but unrelated colleague's.
  • Monet painted a series of pictures of lilies, a ton of hay stacks, and thirty Rouen cathedrals. The author really wanted the cathedrals to be sold as a set, but collectors didn't have that much money.
  • Pissarro became famous for his views of Paris from strange angles. No, the artist couldn't fly. He just painted from the heights of hotel windows.

The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning by Camille Pissarro


  • Despite what some may have fantasized, Degas' relationship with his ballerinas was strictly professional - the only thing he ever took to bed with him was his art.

Blue Dancers (1897) by Edgar Degas


Finally, it would be good to remember the surnames Renoir, Sisley, Bazille, and Morisot, and also to know that Morisot is a woman.

All right! Now you're ready to drop a few smart lines while strolling through the galleries of the Musée d'Orsay with a friend, or simply over a cup of tea and a croissant.