Updated on 2 July 2020
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Welcome to Normandy, the birthplace of Impressionism. Inspired by the unique light, the beauty and the mystery of Normandy, Impressionist painters set up their easels along the Channel coast and the banks of the Seine, in Rouen’s old town and Monet’s private gardens in Giverny.
Claude Monet‘s Impression, sunrise painted in 1872 was initially derided as mere ‘impressionism’ – a term made up by one art critic which gave rise to the name of this whole movement of its day. In 1883, Monet moved into a property in the little village of Giverny, on the banks of the River Epte, a rural retreat where a branch line kept him in touch with Paris; there he lived out his remaining years and it has since become a hugely popular place to visit.
Inspired by the unique light, the changeable weather, its picturesque beauty, and its relative accessibility from Paris, artists and writers gathered in Normandy, setting up their easels from Rouen to Etretat, Honfleur and beyond. Steam locomotives, new techniques in the manufacture of colours and of paint tubes, portable easels, photography, all converged to help revolutionise painting and help it break the bonds of convention.