Musée d'Orsay: Neo-Impressionism From Seurat to Paul Klee

Neo-Impressionism From Seurat to Paul Klee

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2005

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Camille Pissarro
 (1830-1903) 
 Jeune paysanne faisant du feu. Gelée blanche. [Peasant Girl Lighting a Fire. Frost.]
 1888
 Oil on canvas
 H. 92.8; W. 92.5 cm
 Paris, Musée d'Orsay
Camille PissarroPeasant Girl Lighting a Fire. Frost.© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
On 15 May, 1886, when the eighth and final Impressionist exhibition opened on the rue Laffitte in Paris, the attention of the public and critics was monopolised by the exhibits in the last room. Amongst them was the Seurat painting considered to be the founding manifesto of Neo-impressionism, A Sunday Aternoon on the Grande Jatte Island, an immense work which overshadowed all the others.
Seurat was surrounded by followers who had adopted his staccato brushstroke whilst witnessing the painstaking emergence of Grande Jatte. These included Paul Signac, a young painter who had never had any classical training, Lucien Pissarro, and his father, Camille Pissarro, the Impressionist master. The latter converted to what he called "Scientific Impressionism" as a way out of the cul-de-sac of "Romantic Impressionism".

painting
Camille PissarroBow of the Tub (Opus 176)© photo DR
In the midst of relatively lukewarm criticism, the art chronicler Félix Fénéon, who was close to symbolist circles, immediately became an ardent defender of this new painting. It was he, in an article published in the Brussels review L'Art moderne (19 September, 1886), who invented the title "Neo-impressionism", and in doing so highlighted the defining desire of Seurat and his companions to revitalise Impressionism. Fénéon was to become an indefatigable advocate for the movement and one of the artisans of its growth throughout Europe.

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