Traditionally, art and artists where about painting portraits, but impressionism hanged the concept and expression through art.
The spark of impressionism was first felt in 1862 with four young artists in a studio in France. Claude Manet, Camille Pissaro, Edgar Degas and Alfred Sisley were under the tutelage of Charles Gleyre. Charle’s style of painting was unconventional and was considered to be hostile to what traditional painters thought about art and reality.
The paintings of that time consisted majorly romanticism and neoclassicism which used thick brush strokes and dark colours. These paintings were hosted at the Salon De Perry, the most prestigious art exhibition of that time.
The cult of Salon de Perry was such that if a painter was not to show there, he was not to be taken seriously as a painter and thus had no career.
The impressionists on the other hand did what the other artists did not. They captured the reality as it was. They painted scenes as they were in everyday lives which at that time was not considered important or rather appropriate.
Napoleon rules France at that time and France was undergoing furious modernization. Napoleon ordered destruction of thousands of houses to make new modern ones on par with American modern infrastructure. These changes in everyday France was captured by the Impressionists in their paintings.
These paintings were so huge a success that people from other countries moved to Paris after being inspired by the paintings. This led to doubling of the city’s population.
In the second half of the 19th century, impressionists formed their own group and remained indifferent to political changed of that time. Their paintings were completely real based on true emotions and portrayal of natural beauty.
Moreover these artists were not inspired by money for their paintings rather they were inspired by painting realities. This was unacceptable to the artists of that time. This became evident when half of their 5000 paintings were rejected at Salon de Perry. Napoleon ordered a different exhibition for these rejected artists but it failed to generate good response and was also criticized extensively.
Interestingly the word impressionism was created by the art critics of the time who used the term to mock the artist’s impression of sunrise by Claude Manet. Inspired by the criticism, the young artists took up impressionism itself called themselves as the Impressionists.
Their paintings were not appreciated and they had to face several unsuccessful shows starting from their first show in 1874 in Paris. In 1886, they gave their last show and thus the era of the impressionists came to an end. By this point of time impressionism had spread across the western world through Claude Manet. He constant tried to spread the idea of impressionism and eventually succeeded in doing so. But by the time success hit his doorsteps, most of his fellow artists were not there to taste it.