Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map


The Impressionism




see collections:

Federico Zandomeneghi

Childe Hassam

Peder Severin Kroyer

Max Liebermann



The Influence of Impressionism

The Impressionist movement brought about a change in the understanding of colour. Once the colours of the rainbow had been broken up, there was no turning back. From there were to come new techniques, such as divisionism, as well as the revolutionary idea that colour could be the central subject of a painting over and above any other element. In 1895, Kandinsky, having seen Monet's series of haystacks, offered the following definition: "The painting takes on a magical strength and splendour and, at the same time, unconsciously, the subject, the crucial part of the picture, is put in doubt." Colour, hereafter, assumed different forms and roles, and the consequences for modern art. regarding theory and technique, were to be enormous. The influence of Impressionism soon spread from Paris around the world. Artists everywhere were rejecting academic tradition in favour of this new radiant painting style inspired by the Paris-based group. The Italian painter Federico Zandomeneghi (1841-1917) was just one of many to be inspired by the Impressionists. He came to Paris in 1874, and, thanks to the influence of the art historian Diego Martelli, he exhibited with the group in 1879. 1880, 1881, and 1886. Shy and reticent, he found it difficult to sell his pictures and was forced
to make a living from his fashion drawings.
Monet's home at Giverny was among the favourite haunts of American artists in France. John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), an American who trained in Paris, recorded his visit in 1887 in a painting. His brief, intense Impressionist period, which lasted from 1884 to 1889, enriched his art, making his drawing freer and less formal and enhancing his portraits. After seeing works by Monet and Pissarro in Paris, Childe Hassam (1859-1935) captured the New York streets on canvas, with light brushstrokes that successfully evoked the atmosphere of the city. In 1898, a group of American painters (of which Hassam was a member) called The Ten, led by J. H. Twachtman and J. Alden Weir, formally introduced the principles of Impressionism into the US.
The Danish painter Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909) was influential in introducing Impressionism to Denmark.
Paul Gauguin, who had married a Danish girl, helped to spread the Impressionist theories, showing his own collection in 1889 - including works by Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Guillaumin, Pissarro, Sisley, and Angrand. Living in Paris between 1873 and 1878, Max Liebermann (1847-1935) came into contact with the Impressionists. He is the only German painter who could be classified as an Impressionist.

Federico Zandomeneghi
Place d'Anvers



Childe Hassam
Boston Common at Twilight




In 1839, the painter Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (1787-1851) was developing the daguerreotype, the first practical photographic process, which William Talbot would perfect later that year. Photography as an art form was slow to assert itself. Baudelaire called it the "refuge of all failed painters", but it was often the painters themselves who made use of it, albeit at times in secret. Delacroix, Corot, and Courbet all took advantage of the new process. Photography established a new approach to reality: in long sittings, it could register gestures, reactions, and expressions that looked seemingly spontaneous but were in fact cleverly stage-managed by the photographer. New psychological and spatial relationships developed, which Degas took up and examined in detail. He collected cartes de visite, photographs the same size as a visiting card, which were mounted in series on thin card and featured particular subjects (ballerinas, reigning monarchs, actors).

Nadar, View of Paris.
An aerial shot taken during a flight in a hot-air balloon.

see also:

History of Photography

 The models simulating certain gestures or movements made up a real "theatre of vision''. The famous Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi (1819-90) earned huge sums from a celebrated series in which the sitters' poses were in sequence to make them appear more natural. Several scientific questions were resolved by the achievements of photography, particularly with regard to motion. The great Eadweard Muybrige's photographic series of the movements of a galloping horse exposed all the errors previously made by sculptors and painters in their depictions of horses in motion.
Nadar (1820-1910), in whose studio in the Boulevard des Capucines the first Impressionist exhibition was held in 1874, was the subject of a contemporary cartoon with the caption: "Nadar raises photography to the level of art." The most renowned personalities of the day flocked to his studio to be photographed, and in 1863 the intrepid photographer astounded Paris by going up in a hot-air balloon to take the first-ever aerial photographs. This earned him a mention, under the name Ardan, in Jules Verne's novel De la terre a la lune ("From the Earth to the Moon", 1865). According to the poet Paul Valery, Degas was "enamoured of photography at a time when other artists despised it or did not dare admit that it could be of use to them." He made prints to explore the effects of light and seek new-perspectives. Because he was so busy during the day, he took photographs in the evening; he wanted to capture the magic of moonlight or artificial light. "Daylight is too easy," he said. An extraordinary type of photograph emerged from Degas' camera, in which light and shade absorb descriptive detail and create spaces around the opaque forms of the female figures. Mallarme and Renoir were persuaded by Degas to pose for 15 torturous minutes under the heat of nine lamps for a photograph that Degas wanted to give to Valery: "This photograph has been given to me by Degas, whose camera and reflection can be seen in the mirror,'' wrote Valery.


Andre-Adolphe-Eugene Disderi,
Carte de visite with ballerina.

In about 1860, the photographer made this series that would become known as The Legs of the Opera. The photographic process had a profound influence on tastes in art.


Eadweard Muybridge, The Horse in Motion, 1878.

This English photographer, based in the US from 1852,
carried out the first important research into
the movement of men and animals between 1872 and 1885.
The shots are considered important forerunners of cinematographic processes.




To achieve the luminous canvas of Le Pont Neuf (1872),
Renoir sketched the passers-by from a window. His brother Edmond had been sent down to hinder their progress so that the artist would have the time to set them down on canvas. There was still something too stiff about these figures seen from above; their movements were depicted through the intellect, not through the eye. In later paintings, Renoir defined them as simple daubs of colour. In Boulevard Seen from Above (1880), Caillebotte did not look for movement. With meticulous precision, he worked out the arrangement of space in a classical manner. In the view from below of Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando (1879), Degas defined space psychologically. It is not the audience but we who lift our heads, holding our breath to watch Miss La La balancing in space. Our perception is sharpened by the asymmetry of the figure, which, with all its weight, hovers in the air, occupying only one upper corner of the large surface of the painting. In Renoir's The Dance at the Moulin de la Galette (1876), the people dance in and out of the tables in a cafe in Montmartre. The fluctuating light and the seduction of the composition were to come alive again in the film A Day in the Country (1936-46) by Renoir's son Jean, in which he paid homage to Impressionist painting.

Edgar Degas, Degas and his maid, Zoe Closier, 1890.
 Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.



Gustave Caillebotte,
Boulevard Seen from Above
, 1880.

Asymmetry, oblique lines, and an aerial view brought freshness to the artist's perception.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
The Dance at the Moulin de la Galette
Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

In the New York (Whitney Collection) version,
the movements of the figures, and the lights and colours,
as the artist recorded them en plein air,
are even more striking.

see collections:

Federico Zandomeneghi

Childe Hassam

Peder Severin Kroyer

Max Liebermann


Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy