The word "impressionism" was originally used condescendingly in order to describe  the style of an entire group of artists whose artistic sensibilities marked the beginning of an entirely new artistic trend. See



Composers: Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Debussy: "I love music passionately. And because I love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth, an open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It must never be shut in and become an academic art."  


Poets: Paul Verlaine:

"For we desire above all -nuance,

Not color but half-shades!

Ah! nuance alone unites

Dream with dream and flute with horn."


Characteristics of impressionism in the visual arts:

* closeness to nature; emphasis on light; delight in the transitory

* indifference toward pictorial content; hazy and luminous

* implies the unfinished, the incomplete, the fleeting moment

* sensation rather than perception

* to evoke a mood; to suggest rather than depict

* portrayal of casual scenes of everyday life, world of entertainment, and bourgeois culture: cafés, dancing girls, picnics



Characteristics of impressionism in music:

* irregular phrases

* avoidance of traditional harmonic progressions

* veiled orchestral color

* ambiguity of form

* unresolved dissonances

* whole-tone scales, use of 9th chords, frequent use of modality, exotic scales


Édouard Manet (1832-1883)

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Degas: "The purpose [of the impressionist artist] is to observe his models through the keyhole."

Dance Class

Ballet Class


Claude Monet (1840-1926)

 Field of Poppies at Argenteuil

           Woman with Parasol

           Camille Monet and a Child in the Garden

           The Rouen Cathedral

           The Rouen Cathedral: Full Sunlight

           The Rouen Cathedral: Sunset

           Water Lilies

           Water Lilies