Impressionism and the Portrait

Claude Monet- Woman with a parasol -1875The Impressionist art movement started as a rebellious art movement by four students, and yet today it is considered one of the most important art movements of our time. Even today we are inspired with awe when we see a piece by Monet or Manet.

The four that began the movement were Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, and Frederic Bazille. At the time conventional painting was done in doors, in the studios with subjects set within non existent historical Greek or Roman scenes.

One day these four artists took their work outdoors. They went to the forest of Fontainbleu and started painting out in the open. The object was to paint swiftly, to capture the light and the impression of the moment. As they began to further work in the style portraits that were commissioned were painted outdoors or in their natural setting. The painters began to see that capturing the natural light in a portrait gave the painting a certain energy.

Many of the time did not like Impressionism. The painters were ridiculed and the paintings were considered unfinished. It took 20 years for the movement to catch on and to become quite the in thing.

This is probably the reason not many portraits were commissioned, but many of the famous portraits of today were of the common people the artists knew at the time. The artists of this era were diverse both in style and in their temperament but they were all unified by their rebellious nature and their independent spirit.

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