Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1872) is the painting that resulted in the word ‘Impressionism’ coming into being to describe the style of painters such as Monet, Renoir and others. To Monet, “landscape is but an impression…” Monet had just spent some time in England and the Netherlands, where the landscape works of Constable and Turner influenced him. You can see that influence in the painting below.
While it perhaps is lacking the brightness and sheer ‘prettiness’ found in many of his later paintings, this painting remains a masterpiece, accurately portraying the setting it represents (the harbor of Le Havre in France on a misty and humid early morning) in a manner that both broke with the past and carried that same past forward. The smoking chimney factories in the background, along with the dock equipment and masts of barely seen ships give the scene some structure and contrast to the colors of the sun and water. Just look at and feel the mood created in those swift brushstrokes.
Like all great art, your mind and emotion fill with the mood portrayed, and allow you to be immersed in the painting, seeing clearly what the artist intends for you to see, not just visually, but intellectually. When I view this, I literally feel transported to the time and place, an observer, on shore, looking out at the break of day, an instant captured in art.