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A pictorial movement that revolutionized the history of art, Impressionism will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2024. Since its creation, Normandy and Paris Region still bear the imprint of these avant-garde artists, like a real open-air workshop…

The birth of the Impressionist movement

During the 1860s, a group of artists, nicknamed “the Batignolles group”, regularly met at the Café Guerbois in Paris. Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgard Degas, Camille Pissarro or even Alfred Sisley, to name a few, met there to talk about art, influences or styles. Deviating from the academic style, these artists, which were all refused at the Salon de Paris, decided to create their own exhibition in the spring of 1874 at the studio of their photographer friend, Nadar, on the boulevard des Capucines. The inauguration took place on April 15, 1874. They were then 30, including Paul Cézanne, Eugène Boudin and Berthe Morisot, and together showcased over 150 paintings. One of Claude Monet‘s paintings, “Impression, Sunrise”, will give its name to the artistic movement. Indeed, art critic Louis Leroy then made fun of this painting, writing in the satirical journal Charivari dated April 25, 1874: “What does this painting represent? Impression! Impression, I was sure of it. I also said to myself, since I am impressed, there must be some impression in it.” From then on, painters seized on the term “impressionist”, fully assuming and claiming their style. Critics were sharp and the public was cold at the time, but a new pictorial movement was born.

La manneporte d'Etretat by Claude Monet - impressionism
La Manneporte d’Etretat, Claude Monet

Impressionism today

After this very first exhibition, which officially gave birth to the movement, seven other events will be held until 1886. Liberating itself from academic codes, especially by choosing to pay homage to colors and bright lights, to the notion of movement and speed and by freezing everyday moments, the Impressionists paved the way for modern art. Today, Impressionism is one of the great phases of pictorial art, this movement having conquered the whole world. Impressionism was born and still vibrates in a very tangible way in Normandy, and the region stands out as one of the theaters of the many scenes immortalized by the artists, just like its neighboring region, Île-de-France (Paris Region). Throughout these impressionist journeys, visitors will have the impression of strolling through the canvases of the great masters. They will be transported to the intimacy of Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, under the unique skies and lights of the first seaside resorts that inspired Eugène Boudin or even facing the impressive Rouen Cathedral immortalized by Monet thirty times! 

Claude Monet's house and gardens in Giverny
© Thomas Le Floc’h

See you next year!

2024 will mark the 150th anniversary of the movement in the Impressionist Destination (Normandy – Paris Region). The main event will be the Normandy Impressionist Festival which returns from 22 March to 22 September. Visitors can expect exhibitions and themed events on the theme of coexistence between impressionist and contemporary works. The common thread of this anniversary edition will revolve around the innovative spirit of this artistic movement that revolutionized the art world. Among the 150 to 200 events planned for this occasion, two American artists will be honoured: James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Robert Wilson. Save the date for 2024 and come walk in the footsteps of the Impressionist painters in Normandy.