(Mary Evans Picture Library)

 ABOVE:  Claude Monet, who was a close friend and contemporary of Renoir, photographed at work in 1923.

dominated the French art scene in the 19 th century and was traditional in its approach to historical, mythical, and religious themes. The middle of the century saw portraits valued while landscapes and still life were considered in poor taste. Color was conservative at best and brushstrokes were invisible. The Académie favored carefully composed works of reality. Emotions were concealed and paintings were devoid of personality. The work of the Impressionists, which went against all that the Académie held dear, was clearly mind blowing at the time. Quite simply, their work was considered unacceptable. The official Paris Salon – the annual art show – enabled artists to enhance their standing in the art world, to build their reputations, gain commissions, and win prizes. The work of the Impressionists was

emotion and intimacy – were little understood by audiences of the day. Their reaction was quite hostile to start, although gradually they began to recognize that the Impressionists had created an original vision. It was fresh, full of vitality, and offered a “breath of fresh air,” a freedom that captured the essence of everyday events and subject matter. This would eventually lead to sensations becoming important in other movements including Post- Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Impressionism grew in the wake of the redevelopment of Paris as directed by Emperor Napoleon III, who commissioned Baron Haussmann to change the landscape of the city to one of large open boulevards and sweeping vistas as opposed to the former tiny, overcrowded streets. The Académie des Beaux-Arts

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