Significant Influence of Impressionism on Design


“Impressionism; It is the birth of light in painting. “ 

                   – Robert Delaunay


An art movement admired by artists, appreciated by the public, showcased in the world’s top museums, and defined being the king of-the-art world, “The Impressionism”. Despite the rejections faced by impressionists, this art movement was pioneering with a groundbreaking genre of painting and acted as a catalyst for modern art.  

During the 1860s, France was blessed with art when a style and movement in painting was characterized by visual impressions of shifting light effects and shadows called impressionism, accepted by the whole world with open arms. 

Impressionism is defined as a practice of painting depicting the natural appearance of objects using dabs or strokes of primary unmixed colours to stimulate the picture with changing effects of light. These paintings of unblended color lead to the most dramatic era of-the-art movement.

Impressionism ©: mymodernnmet

History of the origin of Impressionism

“Rejection is merely a redirection: a course correction to the destiny.”

Being an artist means accepting the rejection and creating it as an opportunity, enlarging it to make a revolutionary change in society. 

The year ongoing was 1859, the creator of the so-called rejected painting was Edouard Manet who painted “The Absinthe Drinker” (1859) which was rejected by the Paris salon (Government sanctioned painting exhibitions) on the grounds of degenerative matter, plainly visible brush strokes and seemingly incomplete style.

History of Impressionism  ©:

The origin of impressionism was an act to stand up and rebel against classical subject matter while embracing modernity, reflecting the natural world in which the Parisian painters lived. The term “impressionism” was the embracement of the rejection of Manet’s painting called an impression sunrise. This satirical review of the painting was indeed an action-reaction formula to enlarge the movement which was nurturing within the artists like Camille Pissarro, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet adjoining many such impressionists in a row to live an impression of their artwork behind. 

Characteristics and Themes of Impressionism 

“For an impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject but to realize the sensation.” 

– Paul Cezzane

Impressionism paintings were uniquely characterised by their focus on light change in a moment and defining the edges with shades of colour. The main thought driven behind this movement was to justify their vision, how the object, landscape, human, etc. appeared to them creating the exact of their viewing vision in the form of clear brush strokes, with effects of changing light dimension and diffused reflection. 

Impressionism has 3 main elements that distinguish it from other art forms: its depiction of light, loose brushstrokes, and open composition indistinctively identified.

Impressionist painting created a revolutionary art movement because of its unique, unnatural, and exclusive characteristics summed up below. 

Quick, loose brushstrokes 

As impressionists are more into capturing a moment, they need to move their hands with a quick movement which often highlights the loose brushstrokes in the impressionist piece. This characteristic makes this kind of painting standalone among all of its kinds. 

loose brushstrokes
                             Loose Brushstrokes ©:

Bright paintings 

Unlike the previous art movement like Realism or Braque art, Impressionism focused on being light and grounded and using complementary colours nearby to make it look more vibrant and alive. 

                                        Bright colour in painting of Impressionism  ©: skillshare

Realism, an art movement just before impressionism, used more earthy tones like black, greys and browns and shifting from those to light hues of red, yellow, oranges, violet, and indigo, made impressionism paintings look brighter.

In the same manner, baroque art was full of darker tones artisans painted the background of canvases in black, and the real painting emerged in different hues highlighted by a black background.

Impressionism, being a reversal of both realism and baroque art, stood bright and was soothing to vision.

“En Plein Air” ( Outdoor painting )

Impressionists’ paintings are the moment of timepieces, they are the impressions of the moment captured by vision and studio being restricted to object, views and apprentices cannot create variation in illusion, perhaps being outdoor let the impressionists capture the varied moment and the real scenic beauty giving them open options to illustrate the vision of interest. 

Relative colour  

The Impressionists always believe and work on the principle of what they saw hence as we have a setup of colours like the grass is green, the sky is blue, and mountains being brown is said to be a painting in local colour. But in impressionism they pour the colour of the moment say water being purple, grass being yellow in dawn and mountain being orange in the dusk it all depends on the moment captured by impressionists.

                            Relative colour ©: Adobestick

Clearer picture from further away

The unique feature which makes this kind of painting splendid in its way is the more you move further from the canvas, it gets more clear to your vision. This kind of painting is not be viewed by standing very close to the canvas as you may disrupt the vision by its chaotic look of brush strokes and dabs coming together. These kinds of paintings should be viewed in the same way a person views his or her own life, i.e. an overview, rather than jumping into the intricate mess and chaos of life.

               The closer view appears as a disruptive canvas ©: National Gallery of Canada

Small Painting 

As painting does not have much detail within and is limited for a moment captured, hence can be portrayed on small canvases which are easy to carry and hold by the impressionists when they paint outdoors.

Japanese print influence 

The influence of Japanese art print is evident in asymmetrical composition and off-guard events in impressionist pieces.

Japanese art
Japanese art influence ©: itravelwithart

Masterpieces of Impressionism and Their Impressionists

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand as if it were necessary to understand when it’s simply necessary to love.” 

– Claude Monet

An art movement is always incomplete without the appraisal of the artists who made the art stand indistinctively different, creative and vibrant and is the shrines of the culture for a decade. 

Eduard manet  

The impressionist artist is famous because of his controversial contribution to impressionism, mostly the female nude painting was the talk of the town in those days. Being criticised for their unique style of painting and genre of painting, he never attended exhibitions in Paris. He also portrayed everyday life in cafes and bars in Paris, the city and its urban life, the street and its beggar, women, singers, and workers were seen very repeatedly in Manet’s painting. 

Some of Manet’s famous paintings include Luncheon in the Studio, Concert in the Tuileries Gardens, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, Portrait of Berthe Morisot, Concert in the Tuileries Gardens and Roadmenders in the Rue de Berne.

Music in Tuileries by Eduoard Monet ( 1862 ) ©:

Claude Monet 

The father of impressionism was fascinated with the real beauty of nature and inspired by the landscape artist and gave birth to the art movement of that century, impressionism. Being in the open captures the beauty of the moment, which couldn’t be seen again if not preserved in the form of painting. 

Impressionism, sunrise by Claude Manet  (1872) ©:

Vibrant hues, complementary colours, unusual composition, and smaller brush strokes make the painting identifiable that Manet’s work. Water lilies, Impression, Rouen Cathedral series, The Haystacks, and Woman in the green dress are some of his notable works.

Edgar Degas

The artist is famous for his contribution to impressionism in defining human portraits, particularly female bodies because of his academic training interests in creating human figures evoked. Dancers, singers and prostitutes were highlights of his work, as he has a way to present it distinctively. He also did not like to be called an impressionist artist, but wanted to be known as an independent artist.

His subject of portraying painting was not a classical one or celebrated events rather a modern life description in his painting was more of his interest. Have faced a lot of criticism for not being an impressionist artist but rather portraying the life of lower caste subjects. Some of the important works of Edgar Degas are The Bellelli Family, Monsieur and Madame Édouard Manet, Foyer de la Danse, Le Foyer de la danse, and Prima Ballerina.

edgar degas
     At the Races by Edgar Degas (1880) ©:

Pierre- Auguste Renoir

Characteristics distinctive painting which is more vibrant, colourful and giving the essence of the moment captured. The focus of Renoir was also to portray Parisian life and its figures. Modernity, brighter tones and the varied human figure are the identifying characteristics of Renoir’s work. The great masterpieces of Pierre-Auguste Renoir are Woman in Black, Diana the Huntress, La Loge, La Grenouillère, Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children.

urban city
Urban city painting by Auguste Pierre Renoir (1872) ©:

Camille Pissarro

The only impressionist artist who exhibited his work in all eight exhibitions. His indulgence in politics is reflected in his paintings when he highlights the life of peasants and rural areas. 

rural area
Rural area painting by Camille Pissarro  (1872 ) ©:

Being an impressionist artist, the major focus was on the changing effect of light. Two Women Chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas, The Banks of the Oise near Pontoise, Jalais Hill, Pointoise, The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning, and Road to Versailles at Louveciennes are the most notable works of Camille Pissarro.

Above were the pioneers who led the impressionism turn from being criticised to a revolutionary art movement which is still in its existence because of those loose brush strokes which went through the canvas to portray the moment captured. Impressionism is special in its way as it cannot be replicated because the dawn, dusk and landscape are ever-changing with time, hence once a moment captured in impressionism will last on canvases for years.

Influence of Impressionism on Design 

“Impressionism is the newspaper of soul, and design is the letters were written justifying the story behind.”

Design is ultimately the impression of one’s vision, how the design is read is the manner of its definition being the regular one or leaving an impression. Impressionism, being the movement of its time, has not led behind in influencing design. Every impressionist has his way of portraying the impression of the moment captured, unlike the fact that designer’s design has its way of perceiving, planning and executing the design. Hence, impressionism influences the design. 

Examples justifying its influence on the design

Impressionism of the 19th century blew art history into a new direction and design was the field which was not left behind with the loose brush stroke effect which led their impression on the glass to give a new finish creating an illusive vision as if an airy atmosphere is there beneath the glass surface. Design is the majority influenced by impressionism in terms of changing effects of light and colour. 

When talking about an interior design project, one question may arise, where does this impressionism lie? I too wonder that is this impressionism restricted to just hanging a wall canvas portraying impressionism or having much more of its impressions in today’s interiors.

The design depends on factors of switching materials, implementing decor elements, and going well planning-wise. Considering all three and taking the effect of impressionism on material, whether it is a glass top of a centre table or a coffee table or going with a wall full of loose brushstrokes and dabs of complementary colours, enhances the interior by creating a visual texture. 

Impressionism  influence in interiors
Impressionism  influence in interiors  ©:

Existence of Impressionism in Today’s Designing World

When talking about an interior design project, one question may arise, where does this impressionism lie? I too wonder that is this impressionism restricted to just hanging a wall canvas portraying impressionism or having much more of its impressions in today’s interiors.

Impressionism paintings and masterpieces, when looked at closely, appeared to be disruptive in vision to some and as we move further away, the picture becomes clear to the vision, the same goes with design. 

Reflecting surface
Reflecting surface of the glass as dabs of Impressionism  ©: studiobservein

Any intricate or parametric design closely viewed will be a matter of discussion or maybe criticised, but as you will move further away from it, your vision identifies the line of clarity in the designed masterpiece. 

Hence, it’s high time to identify the art history which led a movement because of its not-so-regular art form and give it recognition in today’s designing field, which in turn is the honour of that moment captured. And yes, impressionism not only influences the design but also is the real sense of design.

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