During the Victorian era Romanticism was the prevailing art movement. It touched on every aspect from fashion, music, literature, and all forms of fine arts. To be romantic is to be dreamy, to don the proverbial rose-colored spectacles, and view the world full of possibilities with an idealistic eye. Awakening from repose, memory of dreams are fragmented and blurry from strain at very act of recollecting; like grains of sand slipping through one’s fingers.
Translated into painting, it was called Impressionism. It was the idea of a thing, a dream of the thing, which gave a painting its etherial and transient quality. There are not any hard lines in Impressionism. Its goal is to evoke a feeling of wistfulness or an air of nonchalance. It was meant to leave an impression. Minor flaws were excluded in favor of a slightly more pleasing aesthetic quality. Often times subjects appeared to be view underwater or ‘misty.’
Portraiture has always been a standard repertoire for painters. However, it takes a more skilled artist to recreate the likeness of an individual than it does to replicate scenes of Arcadia and still-lifes. The blurring technique indicative of Impressionism also seemed to give the subjects movement despite their sedentary stances. Brush strokes were made to be seen and not blended in, to add to the movement and the slight “imperfection” of Romanticism.
Regardless of color choice, paintings of the time period, had a light airy quality about them. The hues were much more vibrant than the previous century. The poses of the figures were more relaxed and natural. A woman reclined in a chaise rather than sitting proper, with artificial light and arranged ‘just so.’
While I am incline to favor the highly detailed acrylics from the previous art movements; as I prefer realism techniques; the themes do not often hold my interest. On the opposing view, I absolutely adore the Impressionism portraits, especially by John Singer Sargent, but I am not a fan of Impressionism technique. Renoir, Cezanne, Monet do not make my heart leap.
Contemporaries who are not art-minded are often confused with such statements, so I use a literature analogy. Perhaps one loves the topic of dogs, yet there are some books on dogs one finds trite and not engaging. Perhaps that person loves non-fiction books about dogs, learning about dog breeds. However, they do not enjoy anthropomorphized canine characters in children’s literature who don clothes and speak as a humans do. It is the same subject but presented differently. Such is the same with fine art, music, and drama. What you love is what “speaks to you.”
What makes an impression on you?