What is Impressionism?

Impressionism is classified as a noun masculine.

The meaning of Impressionism expresses an artistic movement that emerged in France in the mid-NINETEENTH century, characterized by developing a style totally unique, during the period of the Belle Époque (“Beautiful Era”).

Impressionism had as main proposal cause a rupture with the traditional techniques of Realism, abandoning the conventional rules and start portraying things as they saw them, according to their impressions. The impressionist works would be characterized by the optical effects created by color printing, light and free movements of the brush strokes.

The artists of impressionism, preferred the open air, taking advantage of the changes of the brightness and the changes that it caused in the colors and shadows and in the very landscape itself.

The precursor of the changes was the French painter Claude Monet, with the term impressionism, referring to his work “Impression, Rising Sun” (Impression du Soleil Levant, 1872). His work Terrace, 1866, is also seen as one of the early milestones of the school impressionist.

It is said that Impressionism originated the modern art, for the works conveyed a feeling of joy and harmony, together with contrasts, lights, and clarity of the colors. They were passing the idea of a blurry effect to convey the idea that the movement was being portrayed in the work was fully passenger – which generated a lot of controversy at the time, as many did not see it as a work “of truth”.

Are some of the artists that stood out in the period of Impressionism, in addition to Claude Monet:

  • Paul Cézanne,
  • Édouard Manet,
  • Edgar Degas,
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
  • Alfred Sisley,
  • Camille Pissarro.

Characteristics of Impressionism

The style of the impressionist movement is full of remarkable features. They are:

  1. Break with the past,
  2. Valorisation of natural light,
  3. The use of colored shadows and light,
  4. Use of colors decomposed, and the primary,
  5. Application of the law of complementary colors,
  6. Paintings done outdoors and not in studios
  7. The highlight paintings of landscapes and themes relating to the nature,
  8. There are a mixture of colors does not by technique, but by means of optical illusion. That is, it is the use of primary pigments juxtaposed and do not mix to make new colours,
  9. The focus of the optical effects (illusions),
  10. Designs without sharp edges – they are formed by patches.

Impressionism was not to last – 1886 could be the year considered as the end of this school artistic. However, the works produced in this period is so short, and have ended up becoming valuable, and many of them have become the works most expensive in the world.

An example is a Renoir, Dance at the Moulin de la Galette, which came at the price of US$ 78.1 million.

Impressionist Literature, and Music

Impressionism borrowed many of the principles to other arts, such as the case of literature and music, not coming in or at the foot of what occurred in the arts, obviously, but deserves comments.

In Literature, Impressionism was remarkable through the use of exact language, which was based on the scientific thought that was to narrate the events of the day to day reality. Other issues were also discussed by the impressionists, as in the case of eroticism, the frustration, the death, the weariness of life and the lack of communication.

We highlight a few authors who used the characteristic of the appreciation of the vision of the present (the description of the colors and tones of the landscapes), with the use of metaphors to talk about emotions and feelings, are:

  • Marcel Proust,
  • Raul Pompeia,
  • Eça de Queirós,
  • Euclides da Cunha.

In music, Impressionism has brought innovative sounds in the area of technique and musicality in and of itself. Are the highlights of the season, the piano work of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. The impressionistic style in the field of music had as objective to highlight the feelings, impressions and states of mind through the tonal colors and harmonies, based on the overture.


The Post-impressionism emerged between the last years of the NINETEENTH century and the beginning of the TWENTIETH century, taking as a basis the model impressionist, presented a number of styles, techniques and artistic trends that aim to improve the Impressionism, that is, give it a new concept.

Many of the artists of this movement post-impressionism, began their careers as impressionists, but soon redefined with other experiences and characteristics of other styles, seeking patterns different from those that form the “soul” of Impressionism.

This group of painters began to use shapes and contours more visible in their works. The image that was portrayed was not more fleeting – it conveys a more static when compared with the images of impressionist works initial.

The Post-impressionism valued the vivid color in the execution of the works and in the two-dimensionality.

Soon, many styles ended up emerging from the revolution of Impressionism, the original, such as Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism and Pointillism (the latter being a style neoimpressionista).

Impressionism in Brazil

The Impressionism came into existence in Rio de Janeiro in the decade following the emergence in France. At the end of the NINETEENTH century, the term impressionist was already used by the local press for certain brazilian painters.

Eliseu Visconti is considered the pioneer of the impressionistic style in Brazil, being one of the names more expressive until today when it addresses this artistic movement. Visconti traveled to France and witnessed the swift painting landscape in the open air and returned to Brazil already understanding the technique impressionist.

Visconti was already called impressionistic by the brazilian press in 1898, practicing Impressionism, subsequently, with other artists, such as:

  • Almeida Junior,
  • Artur Timoteo da Costa,
  • Henry Knight,
  • Vicente do Rego Monteiro,
  • Mário Navarro da Costa,
  • Alfredo Andersen.