History of Impressionism

The rise of Impressionism began when artists such as Claude Monet - an artist well-respected at the time - decided they had enough of their work being rejected by The Salon, the all-important  annual exhibition held by Académie des Beaux-Arts, because their work did not align with its conservative regularities.

In 1863 Monet had over half of his works rejected from the Salon. The Salon was the generic way to become famous as an artist in Paris, but because they supported, encouraged and rewarded traditional paintings, it was disheartening for the Impressionists to be constantly rejected. To compromise, Emperor Napolean III organised Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused), which, although not taken seriously by many viewers, gained a stronger popularity than the regular Salon, and therefore gave rise to the formation of Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, alongside some other French (mainly Parisian) artists, to form the group called The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc.

This society, in 1874, decided to hold a private exhibition. Although it was not majorly popular to all critics at the time, it was ground-breaking: firstly in the way that it re-evaluated art’s current colour, technique and general aesthetics to promote new ones, and secondly because it gave rise to depictions of the world in front of the artist, rather than the previous ideologies or moral lessons that historical, religious or mythological paintings did. Between 1874 and 1886 the group organised eight exhibitions, each larger than the previous, and their popularity as revolutionaries struck. Their independence and ambition for their own movement was reflected in the growth of private art dealers and bourgeois collections, as they liberated not just artists, but also collectors, dealers, galleries, and most importantly, viewers, to share the sight of their fresh, new world.

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