National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

The Impressionists at Argenteuil


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Introduction | Impressionism | Group Exhibitions | The Paris Suburbs | Impressions of Nature
Impressionist Techniques | Landscapes of Modernity | Leisure | Group Dynamics

Impressionist Techniques
Fig 6a In their attempts to recreate the vivid colors of nature as convincingly as possible, the impressionists invented painting techniques that differed radically from those of their immediate predecessors. Mid-nineteenth-century landscape painters Jean-François Millet and Thèodore Rousseau, who painted the rural landscapes around the village of Barbizon south of Paris, were a strong influence on early impressionism, notably in their choice of humble subject matter and in their intimate views of nature. At the same time, the Barbizon painters followed traditional methods of landscape painting, building their images with carefully blended hues and controlled brushwork on a dark-toned ground. The impressionists, by contrast, used bright, unmodulated colors, applied in bold, irregular brush strokes on a light-tinted canvas. Their deft application of paint created the appearance of spontaneity, as if their images were captured in a single moment. This was the desired effect, but these works of course took longer than an instant to paint: Renoir and Monet often returned to the same location on successive days to observe the effects of light at a certain hour, and all of the impressionists usually finished their canvases indoors.

Introduction | Impressionism | Group Exhibitions | The Paris Suburbs | Impressions of Nature
Impressionist Techniques | Landscapes of Modernity | Leisure | Group Dynamics