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impressionism Line breaks: im|pres¦sion|ism
Pronunciation: /ɪmˈprɛʃ(ə)nɪz(ə)m/

Definition of impressionism in English:


[mass noun]
1A style or movement in painting originating in France in the 1860s, characterized by a concern with depicting the visual impression of the moment, especially in terms of the shifting effect of light and colour.
Example sentences
  • The catalogue covers major painting movements from Realism to impressionism and Naive Art.
  • Like impressionism, Art Nouveau was a rebellion against classical and traditional art.
  • My fourth-graders had been studying painting periods such as Romanticism, impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Abstractionism and Surrealism.
1.1A literary or artistic style that seeks to capture a feeling or experience rather than to achieve accurate depiction.
Example sentences
  • Minimalist art is not a recognizable style like impressionism, but rather an art movement.
  • The company produces limited edition fine art prints that are directly applied to textured canvas, with varying styles from abstract to impressionism.
  • California artist Henri Plisson has moved beyond the boundaries of impressionism and into an era of 'emotional expressionism'.
1.2 Music A style of composition (associated especially with Debussy) in which clarity of structure and theme is subordinate to harmonic effects, characteristically using the whole-tone scale.
Example sentences
  • His formative student years were spent in Paris as a pupil of d' Indy at the Schola Cantorum, though he learnt more from the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel.
  • The Prelude for Orchestra opens slowly in a way that reminds us, if nothing else, of musical impressionism's roots in Wagner.
  • The score deftly combines Thai folk music and French impressionism in a rhapsodic manner.

The impressionist painters repudiated both the precise academic style and the emotional concerns of romanticism, and their interest in objective representation, especially of landscape, was influenced by early photography. Impressionism met at first with scorn, but soon became highly influential. Its chief exponents included Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cézanne, and Degas


From French impressionnisme, from impressionniste, originally applied unfavourably with reference to Monet's painting Impression: soleil levant (1872).

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