Impressionism – a French painting movement that sprang up in the 1870s – is associated with the dawn of the modern age in art. Free-thinkers and at times deliberately provocative, the Impressionists liked trains, cars and steam-powered machines. They scoured Paris and the countryside in search of new motifs; armed with their easels and tubes of colour, they left their studios to paint the sky, water, light and vagaries of the weather out of doors. Their favourite subject was “Life”.
To the Impressionists, Normandy was a veritable open-air atelier. Claude Monet painted his greatest works on the banks of the Seine, at the foot of the cliffs at Étretat, and in front of Rouen cathedral. For more than thirty years he painted his garden and lily-covered pond at his home in Giverny. Eugène Boudin, William Turner, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir and many other Impressionists appreciated, like Monet, the attractions of the Normandy light. And the region is famous for the clearness of its skies and beauty of its countryside.
During the heyday of industrialisation, Normandy was one of the first to create a rail link with Paris. The modernity of the subjects the Impressionists liked to paint coincided with the modernity of the pictorial technique they used (rapid execution and bright colours). Their bold ideas were contemporary with the development of photography and the early days of colour photographs.
As a result of this artistic emulation, local Impressionist groups were formed in Normandy, notably the School of Rouen. Neo-Impressionist painters, such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, also travelled around the region in the footsteps of their elders.
The Normandy Impressionist Festival reflects this regional cultural heritage and proudly displays its Impressionist history by staging large exhibitions of the movement's art. Masterpieces from around the world are brought together in the region. The festival also promotes contemporary interpretations of Impressionism by inviting French and foreign artists to produce new works on Impressionist themes.
The festival also presents important musical, theatrical, literary and festive events.
The distinctive characteristic of the Normandy Impressionist Festival is that it is just as much a popular celebration, inviting all sections of the public to participate in the festivities organised by towns, associations and private individuals across the region during the summer period.
One of the primary roles of the Normandy Impressionist Festival is to mobilise the younger public and produce a wide range of educational activities. The discovery of art and culture is encouraged throughout the year in the region's schools, and, during the festival itself, numerous events are dedicated to young Normans both in cultural centres and outdoors.
- 1 million visitors
- 250 art, cultural and popular events
- 7 founding organisations
- 13,450 schoolchildren involved
- 1,8 million visitors
- 700 art, cultural and popular events
- 8 fouding organisations
- 30,000 schoolchildren involved