Only Impression count
”Impression, soleil levant” (”Impression, Sunrise”) was the title of a painting by Claude Monet, which was also to give the name to a new style of painting. In 1874, Monet together with 30 other artists exhibited in the former studio of the photographer Nadar in Paris. The press pounced on this and mocked the artists, calling them ”Impressionists”.
Landscapes were one of the Impressionists' favourite genres, although the objective of depicting nature as faithfully as possible slipped ever more into the background. The new agenda set out to explore atmospheric impressions through painting. The artist was no longer interested in the enduring state of a landscape, but in the fleeting moment of a passing mood triggered by the time of the year and the weather. Monet for instance painted the same haystack many times over, simply in order to study the subtle changes in colour and capture all the nuances at the different times of the day.
The lively effect created by Impressionist paintings was also brought about by a new technique, which was based on scientific discoveries about the function of the human eye. Different colours were applied side by side using short taps of the brush, and only merged together after they entered the eye. This allowed the interaction of the colours to be employed and their brilliance heightened by means of complementary colours. The use of warm (yellow, orange) or cold (blue, green) colours influenced the atmosphere of a painting.