The Impressionist Movement began around 1870 in France and always stayed a typical French movement. The name 'Impressionism'
was introduced by an art critic in 1974 when Monet exhibited his work "Impression soleil levant".
Although the critic did not meant the term Impressionism as a compliment, the artists decided to name themselves Impressionists.
In the 19th century, the taste of the public was determined by the Art Academies and the 'Salons' where art was exhibited. The ruling movement was mostly classicism and people were very conservative at the time. More and more young artists tried to break with this tradition. Finally a technical invention became the break through and led to a radical change.
For centuries artists had tried to reflect the world around them. They tried to approach the reality the best as possible. But, in the beginning of the 19th century the camera was invented. By pressing one button, the reality could be recorded exactly as it was. It was no longer the job of the artist to reflect the reality the best as possible, because there was invented a better way. The artists became more free in what they painted and how they painted it. Therefore one could see the Impressionists and all the movements after as interpreters of the visible reality.
The Impressionism mostly referred to painting. The artists, like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, had great interest in nature. In stead of working in their studios, many artists started working outside. They tried to paint impressions of nature and people; impressions of the reality outside.
There are two keywords that refer to the Impressionism: Light and Color. With the use of light and color the painters were able to reflect (quick) impressions of the reality and even more. By using light and color the artist even tried to reflect the temporariness of an impression.
The method of painting these temporary impressions was creating a little vague and lively scene by painting with loose brush strokes in soft colors. These loose brush strokes intensify the impression of the passing moment. The change of natures atmosphere was therefor chosen as scene many times.
In sculpture the artists also used nature to help them to create a new sort of liveliness. They also tried to reflect the impression of the reality and the temporariness of these impressions. The most genius artist of the impressionistic sculpture is Auguste Rodin. His work has an irregular surface on which sunlight causes glittering. These sparkles of sunlight give the sculpture a new kind of liveliness.
This optic effect was not only what Rodin was after. With these method of sculpture he tried to reflect the growing-process of a sculpture. Like painters build their work out of color and light spots, he build his sculptures out of clay and bronze. By making the growing-process visible for the people, he also brought the aspect of temporariness into his work.