About us
Movements, Styles, and Tendencies American Impressionism
American Impressionism Collage

American Impressionism

Started: 1880

Ended: 1920

American Impressionism Timeline

Quotes

"Art, to me, is the interpretation of the impression which nature makes upon the eye and brain."
Childe Hassam
"I do not judge, I only chronicle."
John Singer Sargent
"A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth."
John Singer Sargent
"A person with normal eyesight would have nothing to know in the way of 'Impressionism' unless he were in a blinding light or in the dusk or dark."
John Singer Sargent
"Life is very short... but I would like to live four times and if I could, I would set out to do no other things than I am seeking now to do."
William Merritt Chase

KEY ARTISTS

Mary CassattMary Cassatt
Quick View
Artist Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
John Singer SargentJohn Singer Sargent
Quick View
Artist Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Childe HassamChilde Hassam
Quick View
Artist Page
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
William Merritt ChaseWilliam Merritt Chase
Quick View
Further External Info
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up."

Mary Cassett

Synopsis

Like much of the art world, American painters of the late 19th-century were stunned and startled by the dazzling colors and vibrant brushwork of French Impressionism, yet by the century's end, Americans would be among the most passionate devotees of the Impressionist style. Inspired by the novel approaches to painting modern life embodied in French Impressionism, American Impressionism adopted bright palettes and loose brushstrokes to capture the intimate beauty of everyday American life. Whether capturing the natural world or urban energy, the American Impressionists broke with the traditional expectations of academic art to usher in the first popular, modern art movement in America.

Key Ideas

Although initially many American artists rejected the loose sketchiness of French Impressionism, their eventual adoption of the style ultimately facilitated a revolutionary break from the linear style and classical narratives that defined academic painting. In both style and subject matter, Impressionism inspired American painters to document their rapidly modernizing world with a mixture of curiosity and nostalgia.
Combining European sophistication with identifiably American subject matter, American Impressionism quickly became popular among the increasing numbers of upper-class patrons. As American industrialists built private collections of art, they had previously purchased Old Master works to demonstrate their good taste; American Impressionists were the first contemporary artists to be widely collected by Americans.
American Impressionism built upon the examples of landscape painting practiced by the Hudson River School and the Tonalists, particularly in the emphasis on immersion in the natural world and an attention to light and color. The Impressionist interest in everyday life and commonplace scenes, however, marked a difference from the transcendentalist visions of earlier 19th-century American landscape painting.
The American Impressionists fostered new organizations for the creation and exhibition of their work; these innovations would last beyond the popularity of the style. Many of the artist colonies and exhibition societies that supported Impressionism were critical in broadening American art beyond academic painting.

Beginnings

American Impressionism Image

A New Era for American Art

With the end of the Civil War and a new era of American prosperity, the wealthy built large houses to showcase their success. In order to demonstrate their cosmopolitan taste, they furnished these mansions with furniture and art imported from Europe. Although American artists such as the Hudson River School and the Tonalists had developed distinctively national styles, their paintings did not command the prices of European art; American art was not considered fashionable or sophisticated. To become a respected artist, it was necessary for Americans to train in the famous art schools of London and Paris and adopt the academic styles taught there.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
American Impressionism Overview Continues

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino
Available from:
[Accessed ]