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MAKING A FIRST IMPRESSION: Impression, Sunrise by Oscar-Claude Monet


This is the painting that started it all.
Entitled “Impression, Sunrise” by Claude Monet, It can rightly be said that this
is the work that christened the Impressionist movement. Impressionism was the nineteenth century art movement characterized by its emphasis on the
effects of light and color especially, natural light, along with its accent on
everyday subjects. This painting is one of six works Monet made during a trip to his hometown, the port of Le Havre,
in 1872. It’s a very sketchy hazy early morning painting as seen from his hotel
room. The work is done in a very narrow range of mid-tone colors, washes of burnt
sienna for the sky, teal blue for the water with complimentary blues defining
ships, smokestacks and cranes along the docks. In contrast to the muted colors
this blazing circle of cadmium orange almost feels like you’re looking
directly into the Sun. Two years later this painting was displayed at the first
Impressionist exhibition. At the time the assembled artists didn’t call themselves
Impressionists, rather they identified themselves as Independents or the
Intransigents. In preparing for the exhibition program Monet was asked the
name of this work. He recalled that due to its hazy painting style it couldn’t
really be taken for a view of Le Havre. He simply said, instead ‘…put Impression.’
Art critic Louis Leroy jumped on the work and used the term “impression” derisively
to criticize the work of Monet and the other artists. However two years later
the group co-opted the term of ridicule and wore it as a badge of honor becoming, the Impressionists. I’m Larry Withers and This has been your 2-Minute
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