Reply To: Impressionism

  • Encyclios

    May 16, 2023 at 1:42 PM

    Impressionism in other European countries

    It is not possible to speak in the same terms about French Impressionism and the numerous Belgian, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish or Russian Impressionist emulators. With the major exhibition organized in 1883 at the Gurlitt Gallery in Berlin, Germany proved to be one of the European nations most receptive to the new aesthetic. J. Meier Graef published Modern Impressionism (Berlin, 1903) at the same time that the conservative Rugo von Tschudi was purchasing numerous Impressionist paintings for the National Gallery of Berlin: a gesture that will have, as a consequence, the resignation imposed by Kaiser Wilhelm II, but that did not prevent him from continuing his policy of purchases at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich. In 1904, the Libre Esthétique in Brussels presented a rich complex of Impressionist paintings. The following year it was the turn of London and Berlin, in 1908 of Zurich, in 1910 of Leipzig.

    As for Italy, its participation in the Impressionist movement has often been misinterpreted. Undoubtedly, Giuseppe de Nittis participated in the first exhibition of the group, in 1874, and five years later Federico Zandomeneghi participated in the fourth. But they were new recruits to Degas. If they exhibited, they owed it to him: to him who, undoubtedly, during his stay in Florence in 1858 could not ignore the activity of the Macchiaioli: Silvestre Lega, Giovanni Fattori, Telemaco Signorini, Nino Costa. But it would be wrong to confuse the technique of the Macchiaioli, still a tribute to chiaroscuro, or that of the sculptor Medardo Rosso, with the intentions of the “bande à Manet”, attentive to the chromatism and the light of the open air.

    Moreover, it appears that the two paintings by Pissarro, which the critic D. Martelli managed to expose at the Promotrice Fiorentina, did not meet any appreciation by the Tuscan painters. We had to wait until 1903 and 1905 for the Venice Biennial to welcome a still limited number of works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley, thanks to the pressure of V. Pica, who in 1908 published in Bergamo Gli impressionisti francesi, the only important study to have appeared in Italy before Impressionism by Ragghianti (1947) and the translation of Histoire de l’impressionisme by J. Rewald (1949) with a preface by Roberto Longhi, to whom we also owe the first great retrospective of Impressionism organized in Italy (Venice Biennale, 1948). Let us finally remember that Lionello Venturi, before publishing in Paris and New York his Archivi dell’impressionismo (1939) had defended the cause of the Macchiaioli. With all this, when the collection of E. Fabbri was sold, in the Thirties, not a single painting remained on the peninsula; and consider that it included 28 canvases by Cézanne alone.

    The wealth of Impressionism,” wrote Leymarie, “was to carry within itself the germ of its own overcoming.”

    Taken as a whole, Monet’s work in itself illustrates this bipolarity between continuity and rupture (which, we stress again, is an essential characteristic of Impressionism): in his insatiable yearning for visible reality, Monet ended up distorting reality itself and pushed his own research to a kind of unrealism, in a clear break with the tradition of landscape. Already in 1873, when he painted his Poppies (Paris, Louvre), the flowers in the foreground, pictorially entrusted to large red patches, preannounce the tachisme. And later, his Water Lilies are placed at the limits of informal art and abstraction: that of Delaunay, for example, who in his Windows, his Simultaneous Contrasts or his Endless Rhythms shows that he has inherited Monet’s passion for sunlight.