The Impressionist movement of the mid-1800s marks major changes in Western Painting forever:
- Paint in a tube was invented and available to buy! For the first time, painters could throw their pre-made paints in a box and go outside to paint directly from nature.
- Light, color, & optics became serious studies on the scientific front - perceptions about color expanded!
- Japan opened it’s mysterious harbors for international trade - Japanese prints became very popular, bringing exotic, new ideas about composition and flat color fields.
- The camera was invented! Suddenly, artists were no longer needed to capture realistic portraits of powerful people - so now what will they paint?
All this invention, exploration, and exotic influence, combined with political changes favoring the middle-classes, is immediately evident in Impressionist paintings:
~ A brush loaded with several unmixed colors dots chunks of light atop breezy trees, rendered fast and fresh en plein-air.
~ A crazy cacophony of unnatural colors fades into a misty purple morning sunrise as you step away and squint a bit...
~ Dancers adjust their shoes backstage, ladies try on hats way off center of the canvas...
Bazille looks a lot like Manet, the "father" of Impressionism - he still uses lots of browns and dark shadows, but his subjects might challenge the traditional art audience of the day, and later his work had more color variety.