An audacious theme

Impressionist portrait(s)

Impressionism has a face, that of Claude Monet ‘in majesty’: “one hand in his pocket, a cigarette in his beard” (Marc Elder), a straw hat screwed on his head and his laughing eyes, in front of the large lily pond at Giverny. In summer he liked to wear pale colours, to match his palette. The mythical Monet alone might embody Impressionism : beaming, inspired, original. But Impressionism was also a family matter, a group portrait. With the same object in view, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Bazille and the others generated the first important movement in modern art.

The Impressionists were the kings of figure painting and renewed the genre of portraiture by adopting a new freedom. Renoir liked to paint the delicate faces of young girls in their prime, Degas chose milliners and washwomen, and Pissarro country girls. Impressionism produced a gallery of male and female portraits of major importance in the history of modern art, one contemporary with the development of photography. Each employing his personal style, these artists painted the society of their time: from political to intimate portraits, they offered a description of history at all levels.

For its third edition, the Festival Normandie Impressionniste has chosen Impressionist Portraits as its theme. Regarded in a broader light, this splendid, intimate and popular subject concerns itself with figuration, the face and body, the family, circles of friends, and the representation of society. The gaze the Impressionists shone on the world was also the portrait of an age. This evocative theme, which places individuals at the heart of the festival, invites us to reconsider the history of Impressionism in a contemporary light.

This humanistic subject will be the vehicle for a new collective project in Normandy. Celebratory and participative, the Festival will invite all active contributors and lovers of Normandy to discover another face of Impressionism.