First emerging in the late 19th century in France in the shadow of the French Empire, it was a rebellion against the realism of portraits and landscapes that dominated art at that time. Driven by a desire to paint outside and capture a feeling of light and emotion, the paintings have a wistfulness and colorfulness that didn’t exist in paintings before.
Often considered the father of impressionism, his paintings consisted of landscapes and portraits that showed moments in life instead of the studio work and poses. His landscape paintings proved to be some of his most famous, having a realism to them but still capturing the emotion of the brush strokes.
The Studio Boat (Le Bateau-atelier) (1874)
A boat that Monet bought and built a little room on, he would paint in it, as well as let his friend and protege Edouard Manet work in it. The floating studio allowed him views that would otherwise be unavailable for paintings at the time. He’s quoted as saying, “a fair wind had brought me just enough money in one go to buy a boat and have a wooden cabin built on it just big enough to set up an easel”.
Impression, Sunrise (1872)
The painting credited with naming the Impressionist movement, it depicts the harbor in Le Havre which was Claude Monet’s hometown. Part of a series of water landscape paintings of Le Havre, the clear brush strokes and colors have set the stage for many painters in the years to come.
One of the first painters to shift their style from Realism to Impressionism, Manet is well known for his portraits. He explored social scenes and groups, often featuring women who were not commonly shown in social environments much. His realism training informs his paintings and shows a strong identity in his subjects.
The Café-Concert (1879)
Showing us a busy cafe in Paris which both men and women socializing and drinking, the patrons sit drinking and smoking in the fashion of late 19th century. The lack of detail of the individuals and the clear brushstrokes help define it’s style. Another element that Manet enjoyed doing, a singer can be seen in the background in a mirror against the wall.
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)
Depicting a scene at the nightclub Folies-Bergère, this painting is considered to be Manet’s final major work. It depicts a bartender standing before a mirror, in which the nightclub can be seen. The perspective of this painting has caused much debate about the realism of the perspective. The painting is filled with details and is a joy to look at.