‘Impression: Sunrise” by Claude Monet is the work of art that gave rise to the Impressionist movement. Painted in 1872, it illustrates the sun rising in the early morning fog over the harbor of Le Havre, France.
Monet‘s intention was to create a subjective impression of the landscape stretching in front of him: “When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you – a tree, a house, a field, or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you your own naïve impression of the scene before you.”
The foreground is removed and the horizon vanishes among the steamboats and the docks that populate the surroundings. The ships create linear structures, while the placement of the boats on the diagonal suggests spatial distance. Finally, the fog arrives as the dominant atmospheric element, meant to downplay the significance of the forms and shapes.
The canvas is executed exclusively as color. Monet painted with small, short strokes so as to arrest a moment in the fast pace of life. This technique usually generates more vivid colors and obliges the viewer to survey the work from a reasonable distance so that the eye would combine the individual marks and fuse the colors together visually.
Despite the initial, long forgotten criticism that the painting appears not “finished”, that it looks like a sketch and not even a completed one, but a “preliminary impression”, Monet’s watercolor seduces its viewers slowly, giving them the sensation that they can feel the landscape with their eyes.
Until next time,