Impressionism was a style of representational art that did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions. Scientific thought at the time was beginning to recognize that what the eye perceived and what the brain understood were two different things. The Impressionists sought to capture the former - the optical effects of light - to convey the passage of time, changes in weather, and other shifts in the atmosphere in their canvases.
The Impressionists loosened their brushwork and lightened their palettes to include pure, intense colors. They abandoned traditional linear perspective and avoided the clarity of form that had previously served to distinguish the more important elements of a picture from the lesser ones. For this reason, many critics faulted Impressionist paintings for their unfinished appearance and seemingly amateurish quality.
Impressionism records the effects of the massive mid-nineteenth-century renovation of Paris led by civic planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann, which included the city's newly constructed railway stations; wide, tree-lined boulevards that replaced the formerly narrow, crowded streets; and large, deluxe apartment buildings. Often focusing on scenes of public leisure - especially scenes of cafes and cabarets - the Impressionists conveyed the new sense of alienation experienced by the inhabitants of the first modern metropolis.
Claude Monet was a famous French painter whose work gave a name to the art movement Impressionism, which was concerned with capturing light and natural forms.
After an art exhibition in 1874, a critic insultingly dubbed Monet's painting style "Impression," since it was more concerned with form and light than realism, and the term stuck