"Impression, Sunrise" by Claude Monet


Though Claude Monet is credited with founding the Impressionist movement, the name was unintentional. Challenged by the collection of paintings that constituted the so-called "exhibition of rejects" in 1874, critics later borrowed the name from Monet's now-famous "Impression, Sunrise," completed in 1872 and exhibited at the exhibition. Although the term was not new, it served as a banner for artists who broke away from traditional visual art forms and styles. In this work, Monet abandoned clarity and detail to capture a fleeting moment at the port of Le Havre. This quality came to characterize the Impressionist movement as a whole. Monet's treatment of luminance, the depiction and play of light, throughout the painting is particularly important in the work as well as to Impressionists generally.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the painting attempt to engage with memory? Is it capturing a memory or is it depicting one? 
  2. How does this painting change from one viewing to the next? 
  3. How do you interpret the meaning of the background? 

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