"Impression, Soleil Levant", the painting that gave its name to the Impressionism

"Impression, Soleil Levant" is one of the major (if not THE major) paintings affiliated to the Impressionist art movement. It is really important because the name of the art movement "Impressionism" is derived from the name of this painting.

The painting depicts the harbour of Le Havre in Normandy (France) at sun rise. Claude Monet’s parents lived in Le Havre, it was his home town. He started his early art career there, drawing caricatures of clients at his parents grocery store.

More importantly, this painting genuinely shows the most significant traits of the Impressionist way of painting.

Let us observe this painting closer, in greater details. At first we notice the blurry aspect of the painting. There is not clear shape, we can only guess some elements of the landscape: a boat, a mast, a launch. The shapes are made of wild brush strokes that seem to be random and disorganized. The colors are blended together directly on the painting. Even if the dominant color is some kind of greyish blue, there are some strokes of very bright colors.

If we look took close at a Impressionist painting, we seem to see imperfections, randomness, as if the painter was in a hurry. This was hugely criticised by mainstream painters of that time. One mustn’t look took close at an Impressionist painting to see the real picture. If you take a step back (so to say, you can also lean backward, since you are on a screen), you can see really clearly a crowded harbour with steam boats on a foggy sunrise. Shapes and lights are the most important thing, Claude Monet only wanted to render the impression of a short a moment.

Matthieu Liatard
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