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. Jason,
    Thank you for this very interesting historical background of Monet and Impressionism. In Monet’s painting, “Impression,” I love how he involves the viewer by not defining everything in the painting, and therefore, has us ‘fill in the blanks’ in our own minds as to what is transpiring. His lost edges in the atmosphere are magical and we can imagine the smells of the river as if we were there. He has truly used the viewer’s participation to complete the painting.
    Thank you so very much for these moments in art history!

  2. Great video, Jason! LOVE Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” . . . truly captured the feel!
    We ALL really appreciate your blog, newsletters, and videos!!! Sincere thanks!!!

  3. Thank you Jason. I love the irony of the title of this painting for it to become the name of a whole entire art movement. I’ve always had respect for Monets paintings but I had the opportunity to visit his exhibition in the Denver art museum and was in awe when I actually saw his work in person! As an abstract painter, I see abstract qualities in his work and love the fact that towards the end of his career, his work became more abstract . His use of light and his studies of how lighting changed through the day was fascinating!

  4. Monet has had a big influence on my photography. I have viewed many of his paintings in various museums. A few years ago I decided to create art that expresses the light, textures, colors and movement in the world around us, rather than simply representational. Although it may not be strictly impressionistic many have described my art using the term impressionistic.

  5. Thankyou so much for the art history lesson! I am an artist an watercolor painter lacking inart history background. My zoom art group topic for the next few weeks is “discuss a movement in art history and a painter who represents that movement>'” Well have I been doing the studying. I started with the painter I like and then tried to figure out what movement he belongs to. So, this particular Monet piece reminds me vey much of some Turner sea scapes I’ve seen. And indeed Turner is sometimes looked to as a precursor of the impressionist movement. However I understand from what I’ve read that he falls in the romantic era.
    Anyway loved your talk and the details of Monet’s life. Hope to hear more like this!!

  6. Monet’s “Impression Sunrise” certainly demonstrates the value of a title. It would be interesting to see a “critique” session, with a work of this calibre held up for examination, without explanation till the end of the session.
    Thank you.

  7. Jason,

    I love these “art history lessons!” Love Monet – who doesn’t. Working my way through a book on his work. Our trip to France has canceled twice. Until I can get there………. Enjoy these.

  8. Jason, Loved your mini “art history lesson” on Monet. I love everything Monet and grateful that a number of years ago while on a biz trip in Paris visited every gallery with Monet paintings in addition to the other well know galleries and castle. And, of course had to take the train to Giverny even if the art on display is replicas. As primarily a fine art landscape photographer, Monet has definitely influenced my eye of seeing. Thanks again for sharing Monet.

  9. Thank you for the interesting and engaging talk. I had the rare and wonderful experience of being alone for quite some time at the Musee de L’Orangerie. It changed my painting style from image oriented to complete abstraction.

  10. I love Impression Sunrise. Complimentary colors, composition that draws the eye in, highly atmospheric, and the viewer’s eye has to work and wander about the piece to complete shapes. Some shapes and shapes made of unusual color are ambiguous giving the piece more interest. This was a great narrative. I really enjoyed it.

  11. This painting is a prime example of the Impressionists use of equiluminance. If you were to render the image in black and white, the blue cloud behind the sun is the same tone of gray as the sun — they are almost indistinguishable.

    The part of your visual system that sees lightness and darkness is confused but the part that can see color clearly sees the sun. This conflict makes the colors seem more vibrant and is one reason many are attracted to Impressionist work.

    For more on this effect and others useful to artists, see Martha Livingstone’s “Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing” – wonderful book.

  12. This painting just might be one of the most articulate paintings to demonstrate how difficult it is to be precise with hue, value, and
    What Monet accomplished is best revealed when one takes a black and whote photo of the painting. Acutally you can conduct a little experiement on your own. Get an image of the painting and open it in a graphics or painting program. After selecting the whole inage, change teh settings from CMYK or RGB to gray scale.
    Artists talk about controlling value but few if any I know would dare attempt this painting.
    By the way, that incisive eye that gave us this painting was growing dim early on. His sight was compromised and was failing even as he was gaining notoriety and eventual fake. As his eye s sight diminished, his paintings grew larger, They remain towering examples of his determination, and struggle to make the best of the light he was given,

  13. Jason, Thank you so much for these art history insights! Please keep them coming! Monet’s work, especially “Impression Sunrise” was never something I paid much attention to until— NC Museum of Art in Raleigh displayed several rooms full of Monet’s work several years ago. I paid for my bff and I to go, snd despite her all too short urgency to get home sooner than expected, she practically had to drag me out of there! Seeing Monet’s work in person, rather than online or on TV makes a whole world of difference! It should be completely unethical not to see it in person it’s so amazingly beautiful compared to seeing it online.
    All these videos you share, should be shown in art history classes everywhere. Unfortunately, art history in college was boring. Thanks again for feeding new life back into it!

  14. Digging further into the history of Monet, he was significantly influenced by Japanese art. Towards the end of your video, Jason, you mentioned that his painting was a suggestion of the harbor, not intending to be a detailed presentation of it. That is very typical of Japanese and Chinese art – it lets your eyes and brain fill in the missing pieces.
    For more on the Monet-Japanese connection, here is one article:

  15. Thank you for this art history lesson. Monet is one of my favorite artists. While my painting style isn’t quite Impressionist, I find this style to be gorgeous and so relaxing. It allows me to develop my own thoughts about the details of the scene. Live it.

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