Selected from five American Museums – Defining Impressionism: Neither the definition nor the use if the term “impressionism” has been consistent since 1874 when a Paris critic applied it to a group if French artists exhibiting their works independently of the government- sponsored salon.
Many artists in that exhibition – Pissarro, Degas, Monet, and Renoir – – did not readily embrace the new term. They felt it suggested a specific philosophy or style as the basis of their art. Instead, what unified these artists was a desire for freedom from the salon system, which regulated French artists’ training.
One common trait was their commitment to a specific artistic purpose often described as “truth to nature”. They saw themselves as realists, recording their observations of the modern world without allegory, sentimentality, or romanticism.
Also associated with Impressionism are techniques such as broken or feathery brushwork, bright colors, clear light, and the absence of black from shadows.