Table of Contents Hide
Claude Monet, the founder of impressionist painting and considered the critical precursor to modernism, was a French painter who primarily liked to paint nature as he observed it.
Monet was born on 14th November 1840 and died on 5th December 1926. Claude Monet had a long career and was regarded as the most consistent practicing painter in impressionism and expressing one’s perception before nature, especially regarding landscape painting.
The concept of ‘Impressionism’ got its title from one of the most famous Monet paintings, ‘Impression, Soleil levant,’ exhibited in 1874 at an exhibition tagged the ‘exhibition of rejects.
Monet and his associates initiated the show as an alternative to the Salon. It was the official art exhibition of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It began in 1667.
The ‘Impression, Soleil levant’ known as ‘Impression, Sunrise’ in English is Monet’s first painting at the ‘Exhibition of the Impressionists’ in Paris (April 1874). The painting displays the port of Le Havre, Claude Monet’s hometown, and is now displayed at the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris.
Monet named the painting ‘Impression’ because of his hazy painting style in his depiction of the subject. The naming was attributed to the fact that Monet sought to escape criticisms and accusations of the painting lacking descriptive detail; charges came up, regardless of the naming.
Impression, Sunrise: Description
Impression, Sunrise depicts the famous port of Le Havre at Sunrise. The painting has two small rowboats in the foreground and the red Sun being the main focus.
There are more fishing boats in the middle ground, while there are clipper ships with tall masts on the left side of the background.
Other foggy figures behind them are “not trees but pack boat and steamship smokestacks, while on the right in the horizon are other sails and chimneys silhouetted against the skies.” Claude Monet removed existing dwellings on the left side of the jetty to display these industrial characteristics, leaving the scenery unobscured.
The prosperous port of Le Havre reflected France’s rebirth following its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. The juxtaposition between the steamships and cranes in the backdrop and the fisherman in the foreground represents the political implications of the painting:
“Monet may have seen this painting of a highly commercial site as an answer to the postwar calls for patriotic action and art that could lead.
While it is a poem of light and atmosphere, the painting is also an as an ode to the power and beauty of a revitalized France.”
The depiction of Le Havre, Monet’s hometown and a center of industry and commerce, honors the country’s “renewed strength and beauty… Monet’s ultimate ideological message.” Monet’s painting of the Sunrise over Le Havre reflects France’s regeneration.
The Impression Sunrise is almost totally focused on color and light, with the breaking sunlight and its undulating reflections taking center stage.
Monet wanted to capture the morning in all of its fleeting glory, and his symphony of blues and oranges does an excellent job of doing so. It’s a quick sketch, done on the spot from Monet’s hotel room window, that veers away from typical landscape painting and idealized beauty.
It is supposed to imply rather than mimic the scene, painted with loose brush strokes. Colors are muted, and paint is not done in thin washes. The artist achieved depth despite imperfect details by layering gray in various tones. As a result, it has a bright color and a robust shape.
The Sun is the focal point of the painting, based on the contrast of complementaries or almost complementaries orange and blue. The viewer’s eye mixes the colors by placing them next. The composition is stunningly effective despite its simplicity.
Icon of the Impressionist Movement
Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise has been hailed as the definitive icon of the Impressionist Movement. The movement grew in popularity almost immediately, with Monet at the vanguard.
However, Monet continued to refine his impressionist style for the rest of his life, capturing “impressions’ ‘ of his environment. He used this approach to create the famous Haystacks and Rouen Cathedral series in the years followed.
Monet also continued his long tradition of creating and presenting a series of paintings linked by subject and perspective, most notably the Water Lilies series.
Learning about Claude Monet paintings, you can definitely notice the impressionist style and Monet’s enormous love for nature and the outside world.
Amidst all of the Monet art available, it is evident that Impression, Sunrise holds a special place in Claude Monet’s oeuvre, he spoke very highly of it and the impact it made on the artistic world generally.
Monet once profoundly said, “A landscape is only an impression, instantaneous, hence the label they’ve given us all because of me, for that matter. I’d submitted something done out of my window at Le Havre, sunlight in the mist with a few masts in the foreground jutting up from the ships below.
They wanted a title for the catalog; it couldn’t pass as a view of Le Havre, so I answered: ‘Put down Impression.’ Out of that, they got impressionism, and the jokes proliferated”
The Bottom Line
Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, is still displayed at the Musée Marmottan Monet, enthralling visitors with its vibrant color palette and expressive brushwork.
The “Impression, Sunrise’ is an exemplary artwork that showed Claude Monet’s skill and mastery of mixing light and colors as a painter.