La Jeunesse de l'Impressionnisme translates from French: The Youth of Impressionism. In the 1860s, a handful of young French artists came together in the art studios of Paris from different parts of France. They were different than the painters that preceded them. They painted outdoor landscapes (en plein air) actually in the outdoors, carrying their portable easels and paints outside to capture the light as it changed throughout the day. They painted the ordinary people they saw and met as those people lived their ordinary lives in the Montmartre area of Paris. They held their own exhibitions in protest of being rejected by the famous "Salon" exhibition over and over again. And they were heavy criticized and mocked for this new way of painting for years.

But as we now know, these young artists could paint and now we love their paintings. The paintings below were included in the recent exhibition I saw at the National Gallery of Art titled Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism. They are early works of Renoir, Monet and Morisot, painted in the "youth" of their careers, but they are early examples of the spectacular paintings each artist would later create. 

Lise Sewing: Auguste Renoir (1867-1868):
Between 1866 and 1872, Lise Tréhot was Renoir's favorite female model (and mistress) until she left Renoir to get married.  The most fascinating aspect of this superb painting, an excellent example of Renoir's talent as a painter of flesh and blood, is its provenance; it was owned by the sitter throughout her life.

The Beach at Honfleur: Claude Monet (1964):
Claude Monet grew up in the Normandy region of France so he was familiar with the beauty and landscape of Honfleur. In the early years of his career he often went back to his familiar roots.

Rue de la Bavole, Honfleur Claude Monet (1964):
A simple street scene was a typical subject of the Impressionists.

Sainte Adresse: Claude Monet (1867):
The several months Monet spent painting seascapes in the area of Sainte-Adresse, a resort town in Normandy in 1867, were very productive.

Bazille and Camille: Study for Déjeuner sur l'Herbe: Claude Monet (1865):

This painting featuring fellow Impressionist painter, Frédéric Bazille and Monet’s future wife, Camille, is a perfect example of how Monet was a genius at capturing the light with his brushstrokes.

The Harbor at Lorient: (Berthe Morisot) (1869):
Berthe Morisot, along with Mary Cassatt, were the two most notable female Impressionists. Some critics seemed to believe that Berthe Morisot was the purest "Impressionist" artist of all the painters: she tended to adhere to the basic principles of light and color in Impressionist painting.

In the next post I'll show more masterpieces from the exhibition Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism. That exhibition was the main reason for our trip to Washington DC.

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets NW along Constitution Avenue. The entrance to the East Building is on 4th Street NW.
  • Admission is always FREE.
  • Open Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Open Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Closed on December 25 and January 1. 
All photos in this blog post were taken by me during my visit in June, 2017.  Unauthorized use is prohibited.

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