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“Impression, Sunrise” By Claude Monet

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Claude Monet’s “Impression, soleil levant” (sunrise) Oil on canvas [48 x 63 cm] The impressionist era lasted from 1872-1880 and when Monet painted “Impression, sunrise” in 1873, the period had just begun. “Impression, sunrise”  epitomizes impressionistic artwork with its defining style of light playing with objects.

Claude Monet’s  epitomizes impressionistic artwork with its defining style of fluttery brush strokes and a blurry portrayal of an actual image. The quick, indistinct brush strokes, and the incredible use of light, brings the sunrise to life, time and time again. The light pinks used in the upper background profess the rising sun, while the ship’s sails dominate the lower background. The blur of the ships and the sharp, defined area of the sun reflect the opposing significance of each object. The smaller boat in the foreground is one of the only blackened areas in the painting, signifying its importance in the painting.

The impressionist era lasted from 1872-1880, so when Monet painted  in 1873, the period had just begun. A group of painters, including Monet, were criticized for using this style that had been previously labeled “unskilled”. The title of the painting, “Impression, sunrise” implies that the painting is only an impression of what any real sunrise could be, expressing the idea that only the real thing could be as satisfying. But by giving an impression, it reaches towards providing an implied substitute.

This 1873 painting is oil on canvas and is currently housed in the Musee Marmottan, in Paris. There are some controversies surrounding the date of the piece. Most sources say that Monet created this work in 1873, but in the bottom left-hand corner he wrote 1872. A good number of people believe that Monet created the work in 1873, but he did not date it at that time. He returned to the painting after years had passed, and dated the piece approximately.

Many critics underestimated what Monet and his fellow impressionists could do. During the romantic period, all paintings were supposed to be realistic and perfect. Smooth brush strokes dominated over painting techniques to give clean, natural looks. Impressionism was a whole new world of art, up to that time it had not been explored. When impressionism came into play in the 1870s, art enthusiasts mocked these artists by referring to them as impressionist. Monet, and his fellow painters, would spend months trying to create one piece of work, because the light only held for a few minutes a day. Monet’s imposing portfolio of over 1,900 paintings demonstrates his incredible passion for this art form. The most important things for an impressionistic painter, according to Monet, were a passion and time. During the decline of the impressionistic era, Monet was heartbroken, and bankrupt, leaving him deserted in the world of art. “Impression, sunrise” allowed Monet the privilege to be held under “impressionistic painters”.


· “First Impressionist Exhibition – Monet, “Impression, soleil Levant.”  On-line. Internet. 11 Apr 2001. Available WWW: http://www.artchive.com/galleries/1874/74frm098.htm This resource is useful for finding art critics’ opinions about “Impression, sunrise”.

· “History of painting- Impressionism.” On-line. Internet. 11 Apr 2001. Available WWW : http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=115377&tocid=69595 This page is good for finding general information on impressionism.

· Howard, Michael, Ed. The impressionists by themselves.

This source provides good, primary sources, such as letters from Monet himself.

Link to artifact: · Monet, “Impression, sunrise” http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/monet/first/impression/impression.jpg This site has the painting, itself.

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