The rise of Impressionism didn't happen easily. Paris was known as the capital of the art world, and the powers that be of that great city were not happy that a bunch of "misfit" artists had the gall to paint outside of the lines. The art schools and the people who sat on the committees for art shows in Paris had very strict rules.
Those rules dictated how one painted. They expected - no, demanded - that an artist followed those rules if they ever hoped to get in a public show. From how to apply paint on a canvas to subject matter and style, these people governed how art should be made. When the Impressionists began ignoring those rules it was not seen as a good thing.
In fact, these powerful people made sure they did everything to squash Impressionism from the start. No artist that painted in this style was allowed in any of the highly renowned public shows. This hurt the artists quite a bit. Without the public becoming aware of their work, how were they supposed to make a living?
No matter. These bohemian rebels started their own shows. Finally Napoleon II gave permission for a show of the misfits. This was known as a show for all of the artists who had been rejected entrance into the more prestigious shows. Not a very enticing advertisement! At first, not many came to their shows; and those who did came to laugh. The term Impressionism was originally a slam to the movement, a derogatory term. The journalist and critic Louis Leroy looked at one of Monet's works and snorted "Impression!" and then went on to say, "Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished." Thanks to him, one of the greatest movements in the art world was given its name.
Impressionists were interested in landscapes and contemporary life, not religious, mythological or historical scenes. Capturing light and how the same scene changed during different periods of the day was an important part of their painting. Many of them also refused to try to make a painting look three dimensional. Since the canvas was two dimensional and they were not trying to "trick" people into seeing their work as real, but as a painting, they painted the scenes flat.
Yes, a new movement in art was born, thanks to those misfits. Things would never again be the same in the art world. We will continue to look into the lives of those crazy bohemians in future blogs here.