Impressionism is an artistic movement that emerged in Paris in the last quarter of the 19th century. Impressionists attempted to capture the momentary effects of light on color and form, often painting en plein air. They frequently used bright colors and heavy application to capture landscapes and contemporary everyday life in cafés, in the theater and on the boulevards of Paris.
The term "Impressionism"
The term "Impressionism" is a useful but ambiguous label that can be applied to a group of artists in the 1860s who painted in France, particularly Paris. It was invented by the critic Louis Leroy after seeing a work by Claude Monet (1840-1926) at the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris in April 1874. The painting was titled Impression, Sunrise and showed a view of the industrial port of the Haven with bright orange sun reflecting in purple waters. Leroy and other critics then applied the term "Impressionism" to many of the works on display, the shapes of which were vague and the brushstrokes very obvious.
IMPRESSIONISM INVOLVED A NEW APPROACH TO SUBJECTS AND COLORS USED.
Initially, the term "Impressionism" was therefore pejorative and used by some conservative art critics to ridicule this new artistic style. However, the artists concerned (or most of them) quickly adopted the term to describe themselves and their independent exhibitions, although no one could agree on the exact meaning of the term.
"Impressionism" remains a useful general label that captures much of what these artists were trying to paint, namely the momentary effects of light and color rather than precise, photographic-like reproductions of reality (photographs had become popular from the 1820s). They were trying to create an impression of reality, or more precisely, their individual impression of the reality they were seeing.