- Impression, soleil levant
- Media: Painting (Oil on Canvass
- Dimensions: 18.9" X 24.8"
- Date: 1872
Oscar-Claude Monet, who lived between November 14, 1840 and December 5, 1926, was a founder of the French Impressionist painting. In fact, the selected painting Impression, soleil levant, is the work from which the movement draws its name. Monet is considered to be the most prolific and consistent practitioner of the movement’s philosophy and focus on the natural world. In his day, Monet challenged the rigidity he saw in the artists of Paris, whom, he noted, would travel to the Louvre only to copy the classical works on display. Instead, Monet preferred to sit by a window and simply paint what he saw. Along with other Impressionist painters, Monet would mount independent exhibits of his work as an alternative to the mainstream works displayed at the Solon de Paris (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Monet).
In his work, Monet focused on color and light over the rigidness of line and form. As seen in the selected work, the details of the subject are less important. The cityscape and tall ships in the background virtually disappear into a foggy or smoky haze, and the smaller boats in the foreground were rendered with minimalist imprecision. What were important to Monet were the thorough exploration of light and color, and an appreciation of the natural world as a subject. Instead, in Impression, soleil levant, the calliope of oranges in the sky of the fiery rising sun, and the grays of the water and obscuring foggy haze are the focus of the work. In fact, the strive to showcase every aspects of a subject’s color and light led was so important to Monet that he often rendered the same scene multiple times in an attempt to capture every aspect shifting light and shadow, and their effects on color (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Monet).
Impression, soleil levant is a depiction of a glorious, fiery sunrise over Le Havre in France. It uses loose brush strokes which provide a suggestion of form without delineating precise detail. The piece was meant to portray an instantaneous impression of Monet glanced of Le Havre from his window (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impression,_soleil_levant). Although he clearly caught a glimpse of a few boats, and the waterfront cityscape behind, but the work in no way suggests that these details were of much importance to Monet. Instead, it is obvious that Monet was captivated by the fiery orange-red sun and the limitless shades of orange dancing through the misty sky. Instead of portraying the manmade aspects of the scene, Monet challenged himself to convey the natural beauty and abundance he beheld.
Not only this piece, but the Impressionist movement as a whole represented a major challenge to the established art world. It allowed artists to move beyond classical realism and interpretation, and express challenging views of the world, and nature, the way the artists saw them. In a sense, it was a freeing movement that put the importance of art back in the hands of the artist instead of the patron; it allowed artist to express themselves the way they wanted, instead of worrying how the viewer might see it; and it opened up new doors and avenues of creativity. Without the era of the Impressionist movement, many other challenging forms of artistic expression might not have been accepted.