Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 1997

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Although the Impressionist movement was not exclusively made up of French

people, it did start in France. The French Revolution of 1789 brought

world-wide class upheaval, but it took place in France first. This

pre-eminence in social progression meant that societal arts were to develop

with greater speed and diversity there then in other European countries.

While England's staggering production levels in newly established factories

were sufficient for it to be labeled the "production capital of the world,"

the birth and nurturing of the Impressionist movement required the cultural

climate of France.

It is interesting to note how preceding artistic styles encouraged and made

way for one another and how these, in turn lead to Impressionism. While the

movements cannot be confined to an exact chronological timetable, they do

give some clues as to the artistic background in which Impressionism was

born. For example, Classicism was very influential.

This movement was widely

found throughout Europe in the post-renaissance period and is largely

considered one of the most influential precursors to Impressionism.

Since the eighteenth century, English artists had demonstrated an enthusiasm

towards painting the landscape. Distinctive atmospheres that were afforded

by the constantly changing nature of the landscape made way for a more

impressionistic approach to the canvas. J.M.W.Turner's Rain, Steam & Speed -

The Great Western Railway of 1844 gives one a good idea of how this

English genre obviously affected subsequent French artists.

Possibly the most obvious precedent to Impressionism was the art of the

Realists. Their fundamental objectives, "to open a window on the world," and

"to paint a message" were similar, in many ways to the ideals held by the


In 1855, a World Fair was held in Paris, a sequel to the original which had

taken place in London four years previously.