The Rise of Impressionism

In the second half of the nineteenth century, impressionism became a revolutionary break through among radical painters in France. This new way of painting emphasized on the surfaces of the subject matter by utilizing color. Furthermore, impressionists had developed various styles of their own. Well-known artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh only had little to share in their search for the impression. In fact, chronologically, the former is classified as an impressionist and the later is classified as a post-impressionist.

Both artists loved color. Monets emphasis was on the illusion of natural forms. Van Gogh as a typical post-impressionist, favored expressing his emotions (Tansey and Kleiner, 995).

The following paintings, Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny (Poppy Field) by Monet and The Ravine by Van Gogh will allow us to further investigate the two artists stylistic orientation. Both paintings are dealing with similar subjects and have comparable compositions. As impressionists, Monet and Van Gogh brought great attention to the surface of the landscape as well as to the surface of the canvas.

The viewer is completely aware that the images of are illusions. Both paintings are about impression and color sensation. However, the approaches behind these paintings are quite distinctive. As a result, the contexts of the impressions portrayed are different also.

Compositionally, Monet and Van Gogh spread their landscape onto the entire page and centralized the page with a linear perspective. Their landscapes are surpassing the canvas and surpassing us, the viewers. We are in the image and are participating what the artist wanted us to be doing: looking forward, visually capturing this moment of seeing.

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In fact, this moment is so short-lived that it is passing by in front of our eyes. Monets painting is blurry, which implies that the participator is moving. To make it more believable, the bushes on the left and right are painted blurrier than the center path. It further indicates that the participator is moving straightforward on the flower path. Monet successfully captured the impression of this very moment of moving and seeing. Van Gogh as well, illustrated a moment of seeing in The Ravine.

However, his image is somewhat far from natural forms and appears ambiguous. As a result, we the viewers do not know how to participate because The Ravine is not our impression of the natural world. Unlike Monets Poppy Field, The Ravine is moving much more rapidly in different directions. The landscape appears to have a life of its own. Van Gogh had no intention to capture the natural forms of the ravine. Instead, he recorded his impression, his perspective, and his experience of seeing.

In addition to the distorted landscape, The Ravine appears to be very stormy and angry. In the contrary, Poppy Field is rather soft and calm. To understand why these two paintings are so different it is important to know where the artists were coming from. In their paintings, Monet and Van Gogh actually shared similar techniques in terms of defining the surface of subject through various color pigments and small brush strokes. The notion of color as form and color as space was really the foundation of French impressionism.

In Poppy Field, Monet used color to find the natural forms rather than add color onto the form. This is exactly his style by letting color bring out the forms of our world. There are no sharp edges in Poppy Field simply because Monet only wanted to paint colors, not shapes or forms. Also, Monets palate in this painting is very close to the actual colors of the landscape. The overall impression of Poppy Field is a blurred image of the nature that the viewers are familiar with.

Therefore, the painting makes us feel at ease and welcome. Poppy Field is a successful illusion with Monet Style. Instead of duplicating what the human eyes see, Monet magnified our sensations from seeing the landscape. Emphasis on visual sensations is another important idea during the impressionism period. Monet was especially interested in the sensations of color and light reflected on forms. Van Gogh clearly had the same interests as Monet on color and light. The difference is that Van Gogh emphasized on the emotional sensations that are impelled from the color and light. In The Ravine, dark outlines and mounting brush strokes make up the picture. This language causes the image to appear flat and abstract. The strange representation of the landscape creates an unpleasant and uneasy feeling. To increase this tension, Van Gogh also used sharp highlights and dense colors in the picture. The Ravine is not about the form and color like Monets Poppy Field.

Van Gogh illustrated the intensity of his emotions while seeing the ravine. Creating an expressive image by using the quality of the line, color, and shape was very important for the post-impressionism artists. The Ravine is a good example of seeing emotional sensations, which is precisely Van Goghs style (Tansey and Kleiner, 988-999).

In comparison, Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny and The Ravine are indeed two different styles of paintings. Fundamentally, they share some elements of impressionism such as ignoring the value of forms in order to put more emphasis on the surfaces; creating an impression of a momentary scene; and creating illusions to perpetuate all aspects of visual sensation. Nevertheless, Monets Poppy Field is more of an impressionist painting than Van Goghs The Ravine. Poppy Field reflects the early French impressionism perspective on color and forms. In contrast, The Ravine is a depiction of the post-impressionism period that focused on expression. This inclination of making art expressive became one of the important factors in further developments of modern art, post modern art, and even the arts of today.

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The Rise of Impressionism. (2022, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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