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The Groundbreaking Legacy of Edouard Manet and Impressionism


The Influence of Edouard Manet and the Name and Origins of ImpressionismIn the world of art, few figures have had the immense impact that Edouard Manet and the Impressionists had on the course of artistic history. From introducing modernism to inspiring a whole movement, their influence is immeasurable.

In this article, we will explore both the influence of Edouard Manet and the fascinating origins of Impressionism, shedding light on the profound impact these artists had on the art world.

The Influence of Edouard Manet

Manet’s Role in Introducing Modernism

Edouard Manet, an innovative French painter of the 19th century, played a pivotal role in introducing modernism. With his bold departure from traditional artistic norms, Manet challenged societal conventions and paved the way for artistic experimentation.

By rejecting idealized representations and embracing the reality of the modern world, he captivated the imagination of young artists seeking to break free from the shackles of academic art. Manet’s paintings, such as “Olympia” and “Luncheon on the Grass”, caused uproar among critics and the public.

These works showcased Manet’s disregard for traditional subject matter and his preference for depicting modern life. Nudes and contemporary scenes became the focus of his attention, injecting a sense of realism into his paintings that struck a chord with fellow artists and laid the groundwork for modernist movements to come.

Manet’s Impact on the Impressionists

One of the most significant contributions Manet made to the art world was his impact on the Impressionists. In particular, his technique of alla prima, or wet-on-wet, painting inspired a new way of capturing fleeting impressions of light and movement.

Manet’s alla prima technique involved applying wet paint onto wet layers, allowing for a more spontaneous and immediate approach to painting. This technique was a departure from the meticulous layering required by traditional academic methods.

Impressionist artists like Monet, Renoir, and Degas were drawn to this liberating approach, as it enabled them to capture the fleeting effects of light and atmosphere with greater accuracy and emotion. The Impressionists embraced Manet’s daring brushwork and his willingness to venture outside the confines of established art institutions.

They admired his ability to challenge conventions and pursue their artistic visions fearlessly. Without Manet’s influence, it is unlikely that Impressionism would have emerged as a powerful and transformative artistic movement.

The Name and Origins of Impressionism

The Initial Name of the Movement

When the Impressionists first exhibited their works, they were not greeted with wide acclaim. In fact, they faced harsh criticism and rejection from the established art community.

Seeking recognition and exposure, a group of anonymous artists decided to organize their own exhibitions, forming an art collective known as the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. By taking matters into their own hands, these artists sought to liberate themselves from the oppressive constraints of the art establishment.

They aimed to create a space where their radical artistic ideas could flourish, free from the judgment of critics and patrons who clung to outdated notions of artistic representation. Origin of the Name “Impressionists”

It was through an unintended event that the movement was eventually named.

In 1874, a group exhibition held in Paris featured a painting by Claude Monet titled “Impression, Sunrise”. The artwork, characterized by its loose brushwork and hazy depiction of a harbor scene, caught the attention of art critic Louis Leroy.

In his review, Leroy initially used the term “Impressionist” mockingly, deeming the artists’ style as mere impressions. However, this derogatory term was quickly embraced by both the artists and the public.

It not only captured the essence of their innovative techniques but also became synonymous with a new way of seeing and experiencing art. The name “Impressionists” soon gained traction, and the movement crystallized around this label, setting the stage for the recognition and eventual acceptance of Impressionism as one of the most influential movements in art history.


The influence of Edouard Manet and the name and origins of Impressionism are intertwined, telling a captivating story of artistic rebellion and innovation. Manet’s trailblazing approach to painting inspired the Impressionists to push boundaries and challenge established norms.

Through their collective vision, the Impressionists forged a path that forever altered the landscape of art. The legacy of these artists serves as a reminder of the power of artistic freedom, and their works continue to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.

Meeting in Charles Gleyre’s Studio

Formation of the Impressionists

The origins of Impressionism can be traced back to the meeting of a group of talented young artists in the studio of Charles Gleyre. Among them were Frederic Bazille, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Gleyre, a Swiss history and portrait painter, provided a nurturing environment for these aspiring artists to develop their skills and explore new artistic directions. Meeting regularly in Gleyre’s studio, the artists forged strong bonds of friendship while exchanging ideas and discussing their artistic aspirations.

Despite coming from diverse backgrounds, they shared a common vision of breaking away from the constraints of academic art and capturing the fleeting beauty of light and atmosphere in their work. This collective energy and shared vision created a supportive environment for artistic experimentation.

The artists encouraged each other to challenge traditional notions of composition, subjects, and techniques, paving the way for the birth of Impressionism.

Abandoning the Studio for the Countryside

As the Impressionists matured in their artistic journey, they realized the limitations of the studio environment in capturing the essence of nature. Inspired by the work of Barbizon painters and the desire to immerse themselves in the natural world, many of the Impressionists abandoned the confinement of their studios and sought inspiration outdoors.

The countryside became their new playground, offering endless opportunities to observe the effects of light and atmosphere on various landscapes. They sought to capture the ever-changing colors, textures, and moods of nature, and working en plein air (outdoors) allowed them to do just that.

By painting directly in front of their subjects, the Impressionists were able to capture the immediate visual impression of a scene, often relying on quick brushstrokes and vibrant colors to convey the sensations of light and movement. This departure from the meticulous and time-consuming methods of studio painting allowed them to convey a sense of spontaneity and freshness in their work.

The Franco-Prussian War

French Artists Involved in the War

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 had a significant impact on French society, and artists were no exception. The war, instigated by the ambitions of Prussian King Wilhelm I and the faltering leadership of Napoleon III, led to the fall of the French Second Empire and the establishment of the Third Republic.

The conflict also affected many artists directly, both in terms of their participation and the disruption it caused to their lives and artistic endeavors. During the war, the National Guard called upon artists to join the fight.

Among those who volunteered were Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Rodin. However, their experiences in the military were far from ideal.

Manet, despite his patriotism, struggled with the rigid military structure, and Degas found himself ill-suited for the harsh conditions of war. The war had a lasting impact on their artistic output, influencing their subject choices and themes in the years that followed.

Impressionists Who Escaped the War

While some Impressionists were directly affected by the war, others managed to escape its turmoil. Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne, Alfred Sisley, and many others sought refuge outside of France.

They found solace in London, where they were welcomed by the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. London provided a haven for these artists to continue their work, away from the chaos of war-torn France.

In London, the Impressionists found fresh inspiration, new subject matter, and a supportive artistic community. The city’s bustling streets, industrial landscapes, and vibrant atmosphere offered a stark contrast to the picturesque scenes of the French countryside.

The artists embraced the challenges of capturing the unique energy and architecture of the city, leading to the creation of notable works that showcased their adaptability and versatility as painters. Conclusion:

The formation of the Impressionists in Charles Gleyre’s studio, their subsequent move to the countryside, and the impact of the Franco-Prussian War all played significant roles in shaping the trajectory of the movement.

Through their shared artistic vision, the Impressionists revolutionized the way art was created and perceived, forever leaving their mark on the world of art. The Franco-Prussian war, while disrupting the lives of some artists, also provided an opportunity for others to seek new perspectives and continue their artistic journey.

Altogether, these interconnected stories speak to the resilience and transformative power of art during times of social and political turmoil.

Bridges in Impressionist Art

Significance of Bridges in a Changing Modern Landscape

The emergence of bridges as a prominent subject in Impressionist art can be attributed to the rapid transformation of the modern landscape brought about by the Industrial Revolution. As cities expanded and underwent modernization, bridges played a crucial role in connecting different parts of the urban environment.

This shifting urban scene fascinated the Impressionists, who sought to capture the essence of the changing world around them. Bridges, such as the iconic bridges over the Seine in Paris, became symbolic of progress and modernity.

They represented the fusion of old and new, connecting historical landmarks with emerging architectural marvels. By depicting bridges, Impressionist artists sought to capture the dynamism and energy of the rapidly evolving urban landscape.

These bridges also provided a visual framework for Impressionists to experiment with the effects of light and atmosphere. The interplay of light and shadow on the bridge structures, as well as their reflections in the water below, allowed artists like Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, and Sisley to explore the transient nature of light and its impact on the perception of color and form.

Impressionist Artists Who Painted Bridges

Among the Impressionist artists, Claude Monet stands out as one of the foremost painters of bridges. His series of paintings featuring the famous Japanese footbridge in his garden at Giverny exemplifies his fascination with capturing the play of light and color on the bridge structure and its surroundings.

Monet’s bold use of brushwork and vibrant color palettes brought bridges to life on his canvases, showcasing his mastery of capturing the atmosphere of a scene. Camille Pissarro, known for his scenes of rural life and landscapes, also featured bridges in his works.

He often depicted bridges in the outskirts of Paris and in the French countryside. Pissarro’s paintings emphasized the harmony between the man-made bridge structures and the natural landscapes that surrounded them.

His careful attention to details, such as the interplay of light among the foliage and the reflections in water, added depth and visual interest to his bridge compositions. Paul Cezanne and Alfred Sisley were also drawn to the subject of bridges.

Cezanne, known for his exploration of form and structure, captured the solid architectural presence of bridges in his unique style. His deliberate brushwork and geometric approach emphasized the shapes and angles of bridges, creating a sense of stability and balance.

Sisley, on the other hand, sought to convey the atmospheric qualities of bridges, often painting them en plein air to capture the changing effects of light and atmosphere.

Female Artists in Impressionism

Female Artists in a Male-Dominated Field

Impressionism was born in an era when women faced numerous challenges and restrictions in pursuing artistic careers. However, despite societal expectations and limited opportunities, several talented female artists managed to establish themselves as significant contributors to the Impressionist movement.

Berthe Morisot was a prominent figure among female Impressionist painters. She defied societal norms and, alongside her sister Edma, received formal art training.

Morisot’s intimate and ethereal paintings often depicted domestic scenes and depictions of women, displaying a unique sensitivity to capturing the nuances of female life. Mary Cassatt, an American painter, also made a significant impact on the Impressionist movement.

She was one of the few female artists to be accepted into the male-dominated art society. Cassatt’s artistic style often focused on the tender bond between mothers and children, challenging traditional notions of femininity and domesticity.

Eva Gonzales, Suzanne Valadon, and Camille Claudel were other notable female artists associated with Impressionism. Each artist brought her unique perspective and artistic voice to the movement, overcoming societal barriers to create powerful and innovative works of art.

Female Models for Impressionist Painters

Female models played an essential role in the creation of Impressionist paintings, serving as subjects and muses for the artists. These models often came from humble backgrounds and worked as seamstresses, laundresses, or shop girls.

Their accessibility and availability made them ideal models for the cost-conscious Impressionists. Modeling for Impressionist artists provided women with an opportunity to earn a living, contributing to their financial independence in an era when women had limited career options.

The acceptance rate of female models among the Impressionists was relatively high, as the artists valued the unique qualities and naturalness they brought to their compositions. It is important to note that the relationships between artists and models varied.

Some artists, such as Degas, developed close relationships with their models, forming friendships and even romantic connections. Others, like Renoir, focused on capturing the beauty and grace of the female form without a personal attachment.

The presence of female models in Impressionist art served not only as a representation of beauty but also as a reflection of the changing role of women in society. It challenged conventional subject matter and highlighted the diversity and complexity of the female experience in the modern world.


Bridges and female artists played significant roles in the development and evolution of Impressionism. The portrayal of bridges allowed Impressionist artists to explore themes of modernization, light, and atmosphere while capturing the ever-changing urban landscape.

Female artists and models, facing societal challenges, defied norms to contribute their unique perspectives to the movement. The inclusion of female models in Impressionist paintings not only provided a source of inspiration but also shed light on the changing roles and presence of women in the art world.

Together, these two topics help to further enrich and deepen our understanding of Impressionism as a diverse and dynamic art movement.

Inspiration from Japanese Prints

Influence of Japanese Woodblock Prints

The influence of Japanese woodblock prints, known as ukiyo-e, on Impressionist art cannot be overstated. In the second half of the 19th century, Japanese art and culture began to captivate European artists and collectors.

The exotic and refined aesthetic of ukiyo-e prints offered a fresh perspective and a departure from Western artistic traditions. Ukiyo-e prints typically depicted scenes from everyday life, with subjects ranging from landscapes and nature to portraits and historical events.

The unique compositional techniques and vivid use of color in these prints captured the imagination of Impressionist artists. The flattened perspective, asymmetrical compositions, and emphasis on capturing the fleeting moments greatly resonated with the Impressionists’ desire to portray their own world with a similar freshness and immediacy.

Impressionist artists, including Monet, Manet, Degas, and Mary Cassatt, collected Japanese prints and incorporated their aesthetic elements into their own artistic practices. They were captivated by the depth of emotions conveyed through simplicity, the bold use of color, and the freeing of form from rigid conventions.

Japanese woodblock prints played a key role in shaping the Impressionists’ understanding of composition, color, and subject matter, inspiring them to create works that celebrated the ephemeral and the everyday.

Impressionist Artists Incorporating Japanese Elements

One of the most prominent examples of Impressionist artists embracing Japanese influences can be seen in Claude Monet’s series of paintings featuring his Japanese bridge in the garden at Giverny. Monet’s fascination with the Japanese aesthetic is evident in the stylized form of the bridge and the use of vibrant colors to depict the water lilies and the surrounding landscape.

By incorporating elements of Japanese art, Monet sought to capture the tranquility and harmony found in nature. Similarly, other Impressionist artists, like Vincent Van Gogh and Gustave Caillebotte, explored Japanese influences in their works.

Van Gogh, known for his expressive and energetic paintings, adopted the Japanese concept of “ukiyo-e” or “floating world” in his compositions. He was drawn to the vivid colors and dynamic compositions found in Japanese art, evident in works such as “The Courtesan” and “The Bridge in the Rain.”

Caillebotte, in his painting “Fighting for the Garden,” showcased a direct influence from Japanese prints in the flatness of the figures and the division of space.

The vibrant colors, simplified shapes, and absence of traditional Western perspective exemplify the impact of Japanese art on his work.

Socializing at Cafes

Cafes as Informal Meeting Places

Cafes played a crucial role in the development of Impressionism as they served as informal meeting places for artists, writers, intellectuals, and patrons. In the late 19th century, Parisian cafes became vibrant hubs for creative exchange, discussion, and debate.

In these relaxed environments, artists found inspiration and support from their peers, fostering an atmosphere of camaraderie. Cafes offered a welcome respite from the solitude of the studio, providing artists with the opportunity to engage in lively conversations and exchange ideas on art, politics, and philosophy.

These dynamic interactions helped shape the artistic direction of the Impressionists, enabling them to refine their creative processes and challenge prevailing artistic norms.

Popular Cafes for Impressionist Artists

Caf Guerbois was one of the most notable gathering spots for Impressionist artists. Located in the Batignolles neighborhood of Paris, it became a rendezvous point for artists such as Manet, Degas, Monet, and Renoir.

The caf’s intimate atmosphere and lively conversations provided a fertile ground for exchanging ideas and discussing artistic approaches. It was here that the Impressionist artists solidified their collective identity and nurtured their artistic visions.

Caf de la Nouvelle Athnes was another popular caf frequented by Impressionist artists. Located in the artistic hub of Montmartre, it was a gathering place for writers, painters, and musicians.

The caf’s charm and bohemian ambiance attracted artists like Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte, and Paul Czanne. Here, they engaged in discussions on art theory, critiqued each other’s work, and sought inspiration from the lively atmosphere.

Maxim’s de Paris, although renowned for its opulent ambiance and patronage by the elite, also drew Impressionist artists seeking to engage in social interactions. While not as central to their artistic discussions as Caf Guerbois or Caf de la Nouvelle Athnes, Maxim’s offered a glimpse into the glamorous side of Parisian society, providing the artists with additional sources of inspiration.


The influence of Japanese woodblock prints on Impressionist art cannot be overstated. The embrace of Japanese aesthetics by Impressionist artists led to a reimagining of composition, color, and subject matter in their works.

Japanese elements became integral to the artistic vision of these artists, enabling them to capture the fleeting beauty of everyday life. Cafes, on the other hand, served as hubs of creative exchange and discussion.

These informal meeting places provided artists with invaluable opportunities to seek inspiration, share ideas, and challenge each other’s artistic perspectives. The camaraderie and intellectual stimulation found in these spaces played a pivotal role in shaping the artistic direction of the Impressionist movement.

Together, the inspiration drawn from Japanese prints and the sociability of cafes further enriched the Impressionists’ artistic journey, contributing to the development of one of the most significant artistic movements in history.

Escaping to Vacation in Cities

Seeking Refuge from Overcrowded Cities

The rapid industrialization of the 19th century brought about overcrowding and pollution in cities, leading many to seek respite in the tranquility of rural landscapes. As urban areas became increasingly chaotic and overwhelming, vacationing in countryside destinations provided an opportunity for relaxation, rejuvenation, and artistic inspiration.

Impressionist artists, like their contemporaries, often sought temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. They ventured to the outskirts of cities, where they reveled in the natural beauty and serenity of rural landscapes.

These locations further allowed them to capture the essence of the changing seasons, the interplay of light and shadow, and the simple joys of everyday life. Impressionists’ Preferred Vacation Destinations

Giverny was one of the favored vacation destinations for Impressionist artists, particularly Claude Monet.

Situated in the countryside of Normandy, Giverny offered Monet an idyllic retreat. It was here that he created his famous water lily paintings, drawing inspiration from his own garden and the picturesque surroundings.

Monet’s works depicting the lily ponds and his Japanese bridge in Giverny embody the tranquility and beauty he experienced during his time there. Eragny, a village located in the Val-d’Oise region of France, also served as a popular retreat for Impressionist artists seeking respite from city life.

The vibrant rural landscapes, with their meandering rivers and idyllic countryside scenes, captivated the likes of Camille Pissarro and his son Lucien. The father-son duo captured the rustic charm and peaceful ambiance of Eragny, leaving behind a legacy of paintings that depict the beauty of the French countryside.

In addition to these rural destinations, Impressionist artists also found inspiration in coastal towns such as Cagnes-sur-Mer, Rouen, Le Havre, and Honfleur. These seaside locales provided them with a unique atmosphere of calm and scenic beauty.

Artists, including Monet, Renoir, and Boudin, captured the ever-changing light and the interplay of land, sea, and sky in their paintings.

Painting the Everyday Lives

Artistic Focus on the Life of the Many

Impressionism marked a significant departure from traditional art by prioritizing the portrayal of the everyday lives of ordinary people. Unlike previous artistic movements that often focused on the wealthy elite or historical events, Impressionist artists sought to capture the realities and experiences of the working class and the common man.

Embracing the Symbolist concept of championing the life of the many, Impressionist artists looked beyond the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie to celebrate the joys and challenges faced by workers in urban and rural communities. By bringing these previously overlooked subjects to the forefront of their art, they aimed to elevate the value of everyday life and highlight the essential contributions of ordinary individuals.

Impressionists Capturing Everyday Scenes

Impressionist artists found inspiration in diverse subjects, from rural landscapes to bustling urban scenes. By painting the fleeting moments of daily life, they aimed to capture the atmosphere and emotions tied to those moments.

These scenes, often portrayed with loose brushwork, vibrant colors, and an emphasis on capturing the effects of light, brought a sense of immediacy and authenticity to their work. The Impressionists embraced the challenges of capturing the ever-changing nature of their subjects.

They depicted rural laborers working in fields, leisurely picnics in the countryside, bustling city streets, and even the quiet moments of domestic life. Monet’s “Woman with a Parasol” and Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” are iconic examples of how Impressionist artists depicted the beauty and vitality of everyday scenes.

By focusing on these ordinary moments, Impressionist artists emphasized the value of the present and the significance of the seemingly mundane. Their works celebrated the essence of human experience and provided a new perspective on the world around them.


The Impressionist artists sought to escape the confines of overcrowded cities and sought refuge in the tranquility of rural landscapes. Their preferred vacation destinations, such as Giverny and Eragny, provided a peaceful retreat and inspired them to create works that celebrated the beauty of nature.

The focus on the everyday lives of ordinary people distinguished Impressionism from previous artistic movements. By capturing scenes from rural and urban life, Impressionist artists highlighted the significance of the common man, portraying their experiences with vibrancy and authenticity.

Through their art, they celebrated the beauty of the mundane and elevated the experiences of the many. Overall, these aspects of Impressionism reveal a movement that sought inspiration from both nature and the everyday, reflecting the artists’ desire to depict the world around them with honesty, freshness, and a deep appreciation for the ordinary.

In conclusion, the influence of Edouard Manet and the Impressionists on the art world is immeasurable. Manet’s role in introducing modernism and inspiring the Impressionists’ alla prima technique revolutionized the way artists approached their craft.

The Impressionists, in turn, were inspired by Japanese prints, incorporated Japanese elements into their works, and sought refuge in the countryside, capturing the beauty of bridges and rural landscapes. They also focused on painting the everyday lives of ordinary people, celebrating the life of the many and elevating the significance of the seemingly mundane.

The article highlights the resilience of artists, the power of artistic freedom, and the exploration of new perspectives in art. The rich legacy of the Impressionists reminds us of the transformative power of art and its ability to capture the fleeting beauty of our world.

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