French Impressionism


     There are three cultural characteristics that are very present in the work of Impressionists during the late to mid 19th century in France. Most paintings were of landscapes and portraits that depicted the life of the French. One of the three characteristics that is a reoccurring theme in many artists' work is the surroundings of the French. Paintings depicting this included homes, landscapes, rivers such as the Seine, and places that were important to French life such as Port-Marly. A second cultural characteristic that Impressionists displayed in their work was the activities and hobbies the French took part in. Boating had been very popular at the time along with dance. Impressionists even depicted parties and different popular events. Another cultural characteristic that Impressionists depicted often in their work was the personal and family life of people, many times the people closest to them. These paintings were of friends, family members, the human body, and other relationships important to the artist.


    The most important facet of the Impressionist movement was the reflection on nature and simplicity in life.  As evidenced through the countless works of the studied artists, many of the paintings focused on bridges, landscapes, and nature.  Some of the artists even focused on the human body.  The impressionist artists were trying to take a more lighthearted approach to life through their paintings, and tried to bring back simplicity to a society that was dominated by hustle and bustle.  Both Degas and Pissarro were very outspoken in their beliefs, which was something that had never been seen before.  Suddenly artists were much more than that; they were speaking out about their work and trying to impart a message on society.  The Impressionist movement had a profound effect on the society of France in that it established artists as businessmen, and it showed how art could interpret the time of the period and how it was meant to illustrate the true nature of life.