Impression, Sunrise by Monet

Impression, Sunrise is credited for starting the Impressionist movement.
Impression, Sunrise is credited for starting the Impressionist movement.

The “Impression, Sunrise” is a 19th-century oil painting from which the Impressionism movement began. The painting was done by famed French painter, Claude Monet in 1872 and it was based on the Le Havre Harbor. While the painting received harsh and negative criticism during its inaugural display, it gained global appeal after the 20th century Impressionism Movement derived its name from the painting.


The “Impression, Sunrise” is an oil painting on a canvas measuring 18.9 inches by 24.8 inches. The painting is based on the harbor of Le Havre. The sun is depicted as a small orange sphere rising from the painting’s right background. The rays of the rising sun appear to illuminate the sky with a bright orange haze. The haze could be from the smoke emissions from neighboring factories and steam ships. The background of the painting also shows the masts of a sailing ship which are blurred indicating that the atmosphere is filled with mist. On the foreground, the painter used dark brushstrokes to create small waves or ripples over the surface of the water with the sun’s reflection on the waters of the sea being seen at the center of the painting. A small boat is seen in the painting’s foreground with a figure resembling a person standing on the edge of the boat.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet was a 19th-century French painter who is best known for being the father of the Impressionist Movement of the late 19th century and early 20th century. The artistic movement derived its name from one of Monet’s popular painting titled “Impression, Soleil Levant” (Impression, Sunrise). Monet was born on November 14th, 1840 in Paris, France and attended the Le Havre Secondary School of the Arts where he polished up his artistic talent. Claude Monet developed the Impressionism style in the 1860s after his exhibits were rejected by the Academie des Beaux-Arts. Most of Monet’s paintings were inspired by nature as Claude Monet loved to document the countryside. Claude Monet died on December 5th, 1926 aged 86 years after battling lung cancer and was buried at Giverny.


In 1872, Claude Monet while on vacation visited La Havre which was his hometown and while in town he decided to create several paintings based on the port of La Havre. Monet painted the “Impression, Sunrise” among other paintings while staying in a hotel room located at the edge of the port. Monet quickly worked on the painting to capture the natural moment, and after seeing that the painting lacked enough detail to derive a title, he named the painting “Impression, Sunrise.”


Claude Monet first displayed his “Impression, Sunrise” painting at an exhibition at the home of Nadar in Paris on April 11th, 1874. The exhibition pulled a large crowd estimated to number 4,000 people who gave negative reviews on Monet’s painting saying that the painting was “an abstract piece of unfinished work.” The painting was later donated to the Musee Marmottan Monet by Claude Monet’s second son Michel Monet in 1966 among many other works attributed to Claude. The painting was stolen on October 28th, 1985 by five masked gunmen who also took several other paintings in the heist. The painting was later recovered in 1990 and was returned to the Musee Marmottan Monet where it was displayed one year later.


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