The Story of Art: Manet and Friends

Gombrich informs us that Manet and his friends were relevant among the third wave of revolution in France. "They looked out for conventions in painting which had become stale and meaningless. They found that the whole claim of traditional art to have discovered the way to represent nature, as we see it, was based on a misconception."  At the time, models posed in studios, with ideal lighting situations, where one could spend hours rendering the details of each shadow and shape of the model. Because this was how painters were trained, they brought this approach to nearly everything they painted, rendering to such perfection that which the eye could not normally perceive.  Manet and his friends believed it to be more accurate to render the impression of nature. Gombrich continues with the benefit of painting in an Impressionist style, "If we trust our eyes to, and not our preconceived ideas of what things ought to look like according to academic rules, we shall make exciting discoveries."

 Girl Styling her Hair, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 

 Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies, Claude Monet. 

 A Bar at the Folies-Bergère,  Edouard Manet.

Boulevard des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight. Camille Pissarro.

Various painters began to challenge the norm of what was accepted in painting, and most of the Impressionists faced incredibly rude and harsh criticism.  So much so, that many Impressionist works were shown as a part of the "Salon of the Rejected", where the public went to laugh at artists who had refused to accept the rules of their so called betters.  This kind of controversy went on for nearly 30 years, and the negative connotation surrounding the term "Impressionist" soon disappeared. 

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