a theory and school of painting exemplified chiefly by Monet, Pissarro, and Sisley, but also by Manet, Renoir, etc., whose chief aim is to capture a momentary glimpse of a subject, esp. to reproduce the changing effects of light by applying paint to canvas in short strokes of pure color: the term has been extended to literature (as in the fiction of Stephen Crane and Virginia Woolf and in imagist poetry) and to music (as by Debussy and Ravel), in which the artist seeks to render impressions and moods by various characteristic devices
Origin of impressionism; from French impressionisme, coined (1874) by Louis Leroy, French art critic, in adverse reaction to a Monet painting entitled “Impression, sunrise”
- often Impressionism A theory or style of painting originating and developed in France during the 1870s, characterized by concentration on the immediate visual impression produced by a scene and by the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.
- A literary style characterized by the use of details and mental associations to evoke subjective and sensory impressions rather than the re-creation of objective reality.
- Music A style of art music of the late 1800s and early 1900s, often evoking a dreamy mood and characterized by modal or whole-tone scales, rich and often dissonant harmonies in unconventional progressions, and the avoidance of traditional forms.
(countable and uncountable, plural impressionisms)
- (art) a movement in art characterized by visible brush strokes, ordinary subject matters, and an emphasis on light and its changing qualities
- (music) a style that avoided traditional harmony, and sought to invoke the impressions of the composer
- (poetry) a style that used imagery and symbolism to portray the poet's impressions
From French impressionnisme