Revolutionary artistic movement of the 19th centurye century, Impressionism left an indelible mark on the art world. We invite you to delve into the origins of Impressionism and discover how Monet, Renoir and Degas brought a new perspective to the world of painting. 

The origins of impressionism

Emergence of Impressionism in France

In the 1870s, France was marked by social changes. The tumult of growth and industrialization pushes certain artists like Many, Renoir et Degas to break with significant artistic codes and conventions, sometimes considered too rigid. These artists opt for a different path: that of capturing spontaneous reality, focusing on the present moment. 

Impressionism emerged as a reaction to established artistic conventions, creating a unique and captivating visual language that transformed the artistic landscape forever. 

Monet, the father of impressionism

Claude Monet Portrait Musee Orsay

Claude Monet, often considered the father of Impressionism, inaugurated this movement with his famous painting Impression, rising sun.

For the record, it is this emblematic work which gave its name to the movement, symbolizing the artists' desire to capture the ephemeral essence of scenes through changing light. 

Claude Monet Portrait of the artist 1917 Oil on canvas H. 70,5; L. 55 cm with frame H. 72; L. 57 cm Don Georges Clemenceau, 1927

Other artists left their mark on the impressionist movement

Pierre-Auguste Renoir et Edgar Degas also played a vital role in the formation of this movement. Renoir, with his portraits and scenes of Parisian life, brought a human and warm dimension to impressionism. Degas, for his part, distinguished himself in the representation of movement and urban life, with a preference for dancers and ballet scenes. 

Impact on art and society 

In its early days, the Impressionist movement was often criticized, with the works considered radical and outside the box.

Impressionism disrupted established norms and redefined society's perception of art.

Nevertheless, the impressionist movement found its audience over time. He paved the way for new ways of seeing and understanding art by making it more accessible and influenced other art movements such as post-impressionism, pointillism and modern art.

The characteristics of impressionism  

If your eye is not trained, it is not easy to distinguish painting styles. Here are some tips for recognizing impressionism.

Impressionism is distinguished by several artistic characteristics that revolutionized the way art was perceived at the time. 

Impressionism in 4 points

  • Use of color: goodbye dark palettes and hello bright, vibrant colors. Painters are adopting plein air painting to capture the changing nuances of daylight. 
  • Quick keys: feel the energy and movement. In the paintings of the Impressionists, smooth brushstrokes were replaced by quick, cross-hatched strokes to create texture.
  • The rejection of clean lines: broaden the field of possibilities. The shapes are now suggested by juxtaposed spots of color and replace the sharp contours. 
  • Present time : grasp the essence of life. The works represent fleeting moments and scenes from everyday life. Thanks to the paint tube, a technical revolution that allowed artists to paint outside of workshops and capture moments of life with more ease.

Normandy and impressionism: a history of art that lasts  

With its picturesque landscapes, its coasts, its tranquil atmosphere and its typical Norman way of life, Normandy played a leading role in inspiring impressionist artists. This particular touch is often due to:  

  • Captivating landscapes and lights: Normandy is often bathed in soft, changing light. Some artists have also established their workshops in Norman villages, such as Monet in Giverny.  
  • Scenes from daily life: Fishermen on the beaches, bustling markets and picturesque streets often inspired impressionist painters, adding intimacy and authenticity to their works. 

The impressionists who painted Normandy 

Several impressionist artists found their inspiration in Normandy: 

  • Claude Monet in Giverny, whose gardens inspired him for the series of Waterlilies
  • Eugène Boudin and the Normandy beaches with fishermen and scenes of daily life, 
  • Camille Pissarro and picturesque villages, but also with lush orchards, and scenes of agricultural life,
  • Alfred Sisley by rivers, bridges and Norman villages.  
Claude Monet Reflet d arbre composition des Nympheas
Claude Monet – Reflection of a tree composition of Nympheas

Painters who found inspiration in Houlgate and Cabourg

  • Edgar Degas, one of the greatest French impressionists, who resided with his nephews in 1869, in the villa La Béthanie in Houlgate, 
  • Gustave Caillebotte, with his stays at the Grand Hôtel de Houlgate,  
  • René Prinet or even Pierre Ucciani who have settled in vacation in Cabourg for several decades or even Edouard Vuillard, Felix Vallotton et Paul Cesar Helleu (1907 and 1912) which came more episodically, on the Queen of the Côte Fleurie.

These places that inspired them

Houlgate, Cabourg and their respective Grand Hôtels, discover these towns and places which inspired these artists of yesteryear.

The influence of the impressionist movement is felt beyond pictorial art and touches other worlds such as music (through the works of Claude Debussy) or literature (with the texts ofÉmile Zola). 

The territory of today through the painters of yesterday

And if impressionist painters painted our territory today, what would be the result? This is the question we asked ourselves. Curious by nature, we had the idea of ​​taking some photos of our territory through the prism of impressionism. One thing is certain, even today, Normandy is still a source of inspiration.

150 years of impressionism 

The year 2024 will celebrate, through a festival, the 150 years of this movement. On the program: exhibitions, cultural events, activities that will transport visitors into a world of color and light.  

In our territory, special guided tours will be organized in Houlgate and Cabourg for the event and exhibitions will also be scheduled at the Villa du Temps retrouvé