It would not sound as exaggeration to claim that impressionism has been and remains one of the most popular and influential movements in the history of art. Although not eagerly accepted at its early stage, the style got enormous success over the next decades and is still widely discussed and appreciated nowadays. The current paper discusses the main features of impressionism and the innovative techniques that distinguish it from other art movements. At the same time it considers Claude Monet’s painting The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman with a Parasol) in the context of impressionism and how its main features characterize it as an impressionist piece of art.
Impressionism is known to have emerged in 1874 when a group of independent artists organized an exhibition in France. The aim of this event with participants like Monet, Degas, Pissarro and others was to present an alternative version of the official yearly art show where representatives of classical art took part. These artists wanted to demonstrate a new approach to art, later called Impressionism, which would not be accepted by the followers of the traditional style. The painting by Claude Monet called Impression, Sunrise gave birth to the name of the whole art movement.
There are several main features that are typical for Impressionism, although each artist has his own manner and style. The name of the movement suggests that the focus is now not so much on the object that is depicted but on the viewer who looks at it. A momentary impression that the viewer has, his subjective vision of the elusive reality is what makes up the concept of impressionist approach. The reality is not stable; it is ever changing because a moment never repeats itself. So, the task of an artist is to catch this moment and make it remain alive and breathing.
Impressionist painting techniques
The techniques that are used by Impressionists are related to the play with light and shadows. Bright and pastel pallet is typically used by them, dark colors are rarely applied. The objects that is depicted on the canvas is not monolith but is comprised of numerous wobbly brush strokes. Because of the technique described above am impressionist painting looks blurry and lacks integrity if one looks from a close distance. However, looking from a larger distance enables the viewer to see an extraordinary volume, which at the same time is not gawky. This interesting combination of volume and motion makes Impressionism outstanding.
Speaking about Claude Monet’s famous painting The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman with a Parasol) it is worth saying that the artist definitely deserves the title of a founder of Impressionism. It is his manner that is considered classical when researchers speak about the movement, so no wonder that the work reflects all the mains features of Impressionism. Painted in 1875, it is quite conventional in terms of impressionist philosophy by giving emphasis to a short moment in time. It is evident from the painting that the composition is not stable because it was not the same a second ago and it will not be the same a second after the caught snapshot. The characters of the painting, a woman and her small son, stroll in the field on a bright sunny day. The choice of colors, which are the shades of blue and green, and variations of the white, create a fabulous impression of a fresh summer day, full of sun and joy. The green grass and the bushes are almost palpable; they look very juicy due to the splendid pallet of green and yellow. This greenery gives roots and stability to the whole composition, which is also influenced by the artist’s depiction of the sky, sunlight and clouds.
The characters of the painting are influenced by nature around them; they are blurred and melted with this nature. The work looks spirited because of the feeling of moving wind and air that affects the characters. Both the woman and the boy wear white clothes which are represented by means of bluish shades that resemble those of the sky and clouds. In other words, their figures look luminous because sunlight and the sky are reflected in them. They are almost translucent and full of air energy; they do not look as earthly creatures although the greenery balances the state of floating. This floating is present in the woman’s dress and scarf, as well as the veil that is melting with the sky and clouds. The parasol is in fact more palpable and looks heavier than other objects because it is more solidly and accurately drawn. The painting reflects the main illusion that impressionist works have: from a close distance it looks undone because there are visible chaotic brush strokes. However, if the distance is increased, a marvelous volume and vividness emerge. The magic that is characteristic for Impressionism is exposed through the spontaneity and buoyancy.
Overall, Impressionism is one of the most intriguing and inspiring movements in arts. No doubt, it celebrates nature and the joy of living, as well has a philosophical context of life’s fluidity. Such aspects as use of pastel and bright colors, attention to light and shadows, painting in strokes are typical for Impressionism. Monet’s painting is an illustrative example of the heritage that this movement has left. By use of color and composition it creates the atmosphere of a sunny summer day full of air and joy.