Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet
Originally named Marina, Claude Monet created his oil painting Impression, Sunrise in the port of Le Havre, his home town, in 1872. His goal was to capture the natural-light moment. The artist rendered the misty harbor where the horizon disappeared and the water merged with the sky. All the objects—the buildings, ships with masts, fishermen’s boats—look indistinct and hazy. The red sun is the only bright spot in the realm of blue, violet, and grey with orange hues.
Even though this painting is not typical of Monet’s work, it played a vital role in the establishment of Impressionism. Because the Paris Salon rejected their works, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, and other 30 artists organized and participated in their first group exhibition in 1874. In the exhibition catalog, Monet changed its original name Marina to Impression, Sunrise. All the exhibits evoked outrage among the public, and Impression, Sunrise received the most critical attacks due to the low definition and unrecognizable objects depicted in the painting. The canvas was evaluated as an “abstract piece of unfinished work”. Critic Louis Leroy sarcastically called the artists “Impressionists”, clinging to the name of Monet’s painting, where it was embraced by all the artists with enthusiasm.
The famous painting has been displayed at the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris since 1966 when Monet’s son donated his father’s artwork collection to the museum. In 1985, the artwork was stolen with eight other masterpieces but it was recovered in 1991.