While probably seen as the impending doom of many artists’ careers, the introduction of the camera in 1816 actually gave artists a new freedom, and new ways to invent themselves.
France was rebuilding itself from the Franco-Prussian war. People flooded to Paris. Social classes mixed like never before, inspiring social and leisure scenes that artists wanted to capture. Renewal being ever-inspiring, artists found inspiration from the newly built cities, gardens, and streets.
Nineteenth century French artists found themselves more concerned with capturing the aesthetic experience of the moment rather than an actual depiction, with special consideration for the lighting and color.
The subjects were often very common. The sketches seemed unfinished. The “everyday scene” was depicted in brighter colors. People found this very shocking. They were used to more “serious” scenes from history or epic stories from Greece or Rome painted elaborately.
Rather, these “impressions” were meant to give a glimpse, of the subject/scene, rather than give a realistic representation. In fact, the movement took its name when art critic, Louis Leroy accused Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise of being s sketch or “impression,” as opposed to a finished painting.