Paint, for the Impressionists, became a medium whose material properties were being celebrated, as opposed to being disguised behind the artifice of a pictorial illusion.
Having committed themselves to working on location in front of their subject, it became the Impressionists obsession to reproduce accurately the light effect they saw before their eyes.
This requires the banish preconceived notions about object and color, from his or her mind, such as ripe strawberries being red, and instead paint the color hues and tones as seen particular moment in the natural light, even if that means painting a strawberry blue!
They pursued this agenda relentlessly, producing pictures that contained a range of bright colours the like of which had not been seen before. Today they look unremarkable almost muted in our high definition world of television and cinema, but back in the 19th Century they were as startling as a hot summer in England.
The reaction from the sombre-minded Academy was predictable condemning the paintings as infantile and inconsequential.
The Impressionists were derided and dismissed as artistic upstarts, condemned for producing art that amounted to nothing more than mere cartoons and criticised for not making proper paintings.
The Impressionists were upset by the reaction, but not defeated. They were an intelligent, belligerent and self-confident bunch, they shrugged their shoulders and carried on.
They chose their moment well, all the necessary ingredients were gathered in Paris to make a break with tradition possible. Violent political change, rapid technological advances, the emergence of photography and exciting new philosophical ideas.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.