VIDEO: A Moment in Art History: Impression, Sunrise – how Monet’s title became a joke and then a movement

When Monet chose to use the word “Impression” in the title of his painting of the port of Le Havre, he had no idea that it would transform into a descriptor of his work and the work of his artistic peers. First used as a criticism, “impressionism” has come to describe a revered movement.

Artwork in the background of this video: John Horejs landscapes –

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


    1. I’ve always loved the impressionists. And I got contacts my last year in high school. So maybe there is something to that.

  1. I love these “moments” so thank you for producing them. The Impressionists certainly changed the course of art making and challenge us to really look at the world.They’ve very much impacted my method of art making.

  2. Thank you, Jason, for this wonderful video on Monet. As a tight representational painter, Monet’s paintings are therapy. His loose work encourages me to loosen up. Monet’s courage to paint outside the traditional box and his unrelenting desire to paint in the style he did in spite of his difficult circumstances is inspiration to me. Trailblazers have to be courageous and Monet is a great example.

  3. Thank you for this informative video on Monet. Monet’s impressions have had a great impact on my work, both in my painting and teaching personal expression.
    When I first came across some original paintings by the impressionists in museums I was mesmerized by the moving brushwork and play of colour that seemed to shimmer with delight. The “feeling” that was captured moved me more than the view/subject depicted. So I sought to find this entity in painting by painting outdoors as much as possible to see if it was the landscape that inspire it. What I found is this:
    The delight expressed in moments of painting En Plein Air is a unique aspect that once attempted and discovered by an artist impels a desire to revel in it, and no criticisms tends to matter.
    The artist’s interpretation of the scene may or may not be understood or appreciated. However, the artist knows there was something special granted through the emotional exchange that happened on the canvas and often wishes to share this (regardless if the piece may seem unfinished).

    It is through such works that we come to know the magical experience made real through art.
    So I thank the impressionist for giving their “impressions” to us ….Simply inspirational!

  4. I love your moments in art history. Thank you. Understanding history is very important for any profession!
    I think Monet’s massive popularity today is a fantastic reminder to any artist that what really matters in that they believe in what they are doing, and in doing what they do with their whole soul. People will feel and see that eventually.

  5. What effect, you ask? This space is too small but I will share the “second encounter.”
    I was a student in art school. I had just finished a gruelling and horrible art history course.
    I had “seen” Monet’s paintings in a darkened auditorium. Being a freshman, I lived in an 18″ x24″ world.
    That summer I went to NYC and went to MOMA. It was a day that would change my life.
    Coming around a corner, I entered the room where the three “Waterlilies” were. If the bench wasn’t there to catch me, I would have literally hit the floor. The three paintings were massively huge measures in feet not inches. I could get close and see that one minor little alizarin crimson stroke wouldn’t fit into my 18 x24″ world.
    I remember thinking something like “So, THIS is what Art is!” My conceptual world had been well and truly shattered and I have never been the same since.
    (Later I would learn that Monet was slowly going blind from as early as the 1890’s and his canvasses increased in size as he could see less and less. I spent a semester with color and light in art school and the instructor had us focus on the effect of colors in context with each other. Impression:Sunrise figured large. It wasn’t until I taught art history that I conducted an experiment that revealed just how incisve and precise Monet had been with his colors. Again, my life changed.)

      1. I, too, didn’t care for art history…until I was forced into a semester with a professor with the unlikely name of Bainbridge Bunting. He had traveled Europe and the Americas with cameras in hand, built an incredible library of slides that included close-ups. His teaching style was impassioned (and much of his language was quite blue). Came out of that semester and immediately signed up for more. There was nothing boring or dry about his teaching style.

        We learned all the neat stuff about brush strokes of this and that artist, their color choices, which compositional choices they used, how the context of their lives influenced those choices, how each may have changed the styles and public tastes that flowed down through the ages following them. Included were how restorations were done and how well or poorly done.

        I’m surprised that no forgers (that I know of) came out of those classes. Most of us could identify a master from a 1 inch x 1.5 inch portion of a painting by the end of a year.

        It’s cool to have these short revisits/reminders which Jason is providing.

        p.s. Professor Bunting’s slides are still kept at the University of New Mexico ready for anyone to peruse.

  6. We used to visit the waterlilies at the Cleveland Museum of Art, coming in tn the back way, with a nod to Elegy to the Spanish Republic #6, I believe, then on into the room where a long bench gave us a place to sit and visit with the colors of the Monets. I think there were two.

    We enjoyed your talk on Monet’s life, and the painting. The colors are wonderful.

    But in your roundup of the “Impressionists,” there was no mention of Berthe Morisot.

  7. Thank you, Jason, for ‘Moments in History”. They are so informative.
    Yes, Monet was my inspiration into the beginning of my art career.
    I copied, studied and enjoyed my own exploration of his brush strokes and color.
    I just happened to be in New York during a show of his “Gardens”.
    I walked into the room and started crying. Tears of joy.
    I still can feel that moment, 20 years later.
    Happy Holidays,
    Debbi Green

  8. The large water lilies paintings on the facing, circular walls in L’Orangerie, Paris, are some of my favourite experiences of paintings that I could step into. Dreamy!

  9. So interesting to hear this and how it relates to the other artists of that time as well. I wonder what they will say of present-day artwork 100 years from now and what it will be called! I also had cataracts (fixed now) and I have glaucoma. I am thankful for every moment that gives me decent vision but has it affected my work? I think I still try to intentionally distort and blur things no matter what and I will continue to do so as it keeps me loose and I was always inspired by Monet’s paintings.

  10. Impression Sunrise. The painting in and of itself appears, if not unfinished, somewhat lean & raw. It is the kind of painting one might see in a thrift store by an unknown artist. But this harkens to the issue of production. Knowing what is known about Monet & the thousands of paintings he completed in his lifetime is what gives credence to the painting Impression Sunrise.
    As no man stands alone, neither does a single painting.

  11. Great video, Jason. Monet uses a technique called equiluminance. If you view the image in black and white the sun is barely visible. Our visual system attempts to resolve this conflict and that is what makes the sun so vibrant. Martha Livingstone explores this painting and equiluminace in depth in her book: Vision and Art: The Neurobiology of Seeing. Equiluminance was widely used by the Impressionists.

  12. I love that this painting gives just a “hint” of information it makes you try to look deeper to see more through the fog. Some people may have never seen a foggy day in their life. It makes your eyes want to search for more, see further, look deeper. That feeling is quite a different feeling for the mind some may never have experienced this feeling.

  13. Monet is one of my favorite artists. I love his work, I think because my own reflects an impressionistic look. To me, Impressionism allows the viewer’s eye to create the “finished piece” according to their own thoughts.

  14. Great presentation, Jason. I am always stoked to see a painting by Monet and I don’t see enough (what is “enough” anyway?).
    The Impressionists show at the De Young Museum in San Francisco decades ago awakened my latent interest in ART. Architecture took up my waking hours and then some for too long, and I am going back to earlier interest of painting. THAT is how Monet’s work affected me.
    Thank you for your presentation – I look forward to them every time.

  15. Thank you for sharing this glimpse into Monet’s life and journey.

    As far as the painting goes, at first glance I found it uninspiring, however, as I study it, it comes to life for me and I am able to appreciate the subtleties in the work.

  16. Monet has had more impact on my work than any other artist. In fact, it was due to my love of Monet’s work that I actually STARTED my artist journey working in Impressionism. Thanks for a great presentation and to all those who commented! We learn so much from each other!

  17. I laughed out loud about the story describing the painting as watered down wall paper. Ouch, that was an incredibly harsh description and incredibly short sighted. It took a while for the audience to catch up to Monet, but fortunately we did. We would have missed a wonderful way of seeing the world.

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