The main difference between Impressionism and Post Impressionism is that impressionism is the art movement that originated in the late 19th century France whereas post-impressionism is the art movement that originated as a response to impressionism in France during the same century.

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Both impressionism and post-impressionism refer to influential artistic movements that arose during the late 19th-century in France. However the later emerged as a response to the first. Hence, there are distinguishable artistic characteristics in the paintings of these two art movements that occurred in France.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Impressionism – Definition, Characteristics, Artists 2. What is Post Impressionism – Definition, Characteristics, Artists 3. What are the Similarities Between Impressionism and Post Impressionism – Outline of Common Features 4. What is the Difference Between Impressionism and Post Impressionism – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Art, Art Movements, Impressionism, Post Impressionism

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What is Impressionism

Impressionism is an art movement that originated in France during the late 19th century as an artistic reaction to the rapidly changing urban environment. Further, it was an art style that rejected conventional art styles such as realism and naturalism and introduced a new form of painting to Europe.


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Figure 1: Bathers at La Grenouillere by Claude Monet


The name impressionism comes from the title of Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). Impressionist artists painted contemporary landscapes and scenes of modern life, especially of bourgeois leisure and recreation, instead of drawing on past art or historical and mythological narrative for their inspiration.

One distinguishing characteristic of impressionist painting is the use of the fleeting effect of light, atmosphere, and movement of the subjects. They used bold and vibrant colors without mixing them to capture the accurate depiction of light along with its changing quality with the exact impression of their subjects.


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Figure 2: Luncheon of the Boating Paty by Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Characteristics of Impressionist Paintings

Vibrant colors rather than mixing themSpontaneous brushstrokes in broad strokes, either using a painting knife or a brushEmphasis on accurate depiction of light along with its changing qualityUnusual visual anglesSubjects from the modernized urban lifeCandid poses and compositions of the subjects

What is Post Impressionism

Post-impressionism is the art movement that originated as a reaction against Impressionism in France during the 1880s (late 19th century). Some pioneering artists such as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat led this movement. The English art critic Roger Fry coined the term Post-Impressionism.


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Figure 3: The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh


Most post-impressionist artists began as impressionist artists; they later started to reject these art styles and started to create their own individual styles. Accordingly, post-impressionists rejected impressionism’s concern with the spontaneous and naturalistic portrayal of light and color. On the contrary, they emphasized on the symbolical depiction of their subject’s emotions along with proper order and structure of their painting styles.

While impressionist artists drew their subject matters from the urbanized life in Paris, many post-impressionist artists deviated from this style. Hence, their choice of the subject matter was not dominated to urban life as many post-impressionist artists developed their individual artistic styles away from the city life of Paris. Their emphasis on the symbolic and expressive content in their subjects clearly stand evidence to this. However, similar to impressionists, post-impressionists also believed that color could be an independent form and composition as an emotional and aesthetic bearer of meaning.


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Figure 4: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat ( a leading post-impressionist artwork of pointillism)


Moreover, unlike impressionists, post-impressionists painted alone, giving rise to many art styles; however, they often exhibited together. Consequently, there were varied painting styles in post-impressionism such as

Georges Seurat’ painting style of PointillismVincent van Gogh’s Japonisme related painting styleGauguin’s Synthetism stylePaul Cézanne’s pictorial form styleHenri Rousseau’s use of Primitivism style etc

However, though they had varied styles, post-impressionists share some similar qualities such as the use of symbolic motifs, unnatural color, and painterly brushstrokes.

Characteristics of Post Impressionism

Some common characteristics of the artists in post-impressionism are:

Displaying symbolic and highly personal meanings through their subjects, the use of symbolic motifsMaintaining the structure, order, and the optical effects of colorUse of unnatural colorsFocus on abstract form and pattern in the application of paint to the surface of the canvasPainterly brushstrokes

Moreover, this movement influenced later art movements such as expressionism, Feminist art, and modernism as well. Some famous post-impressionist artists are Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Signac, etc.


Similarities Between Impressionism and Post Impressionism

Both Impressionism and Post Impressionism refer to influential artistic movements arising in the late 19th-century France.Artists belonging to both Impressionism and Post Impressionism art movements shared the following characteristics:Used real-life subjectsused vivid colors in their paintingshad distinctive brushstrokesdisplay thick layers of paintMoreover, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism are admired and loved as the two most well-known artistic movements.

Difference Between Impressionism and Post Impressionism

Definition

Impressionism is an art movement that originated in the late 19th century in Paris as an artistic reaction to the rapidly changing urban environment. Post-impressionism, on the other hand, is an art movement that originated in the same century in France as a reaction to impressionism. Thus, this is the fundamental difference between Impressionism and Post Impressionism.

Characteristics

Their characteristics are a major difference between Impressionism and Post Impressionism. The characterisic features of impressionist artworks are the use of vibrant colors, harsh spontaneous brushstrokes, accurate depiction of light with its changing quality, use of unusual visual angles, and the use of subjects from the modernized urban life. However, post-impressionist artwork had diverse characteristics and styles that differ from artist to artist as there were many individual artist painting styles such as Pointillism, Japonisme related painting style, pictorial form style, Synthetism style, Primitivism style, etc.

Popular Artists

Popular impressionist artists include Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Édouard Manet, Armand Guillaumin while popular post-impressionist artists are Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Signac.

Popular Artworks

Popular artworks of impressionism are Impression, Soleil levant by Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet, Luncheon of the Boating Paty by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet, and Paris Street; Rainy day by Gustave Caillebotte. In contrast, popular artworks of post-impressionism include The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, La Toilette by Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec, Lady in Blue by Paul Cézanne, and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Hence, this is another difference between Impressionism and Post Impressionism.

Conclusion

Both impressionism and post-impressionism are late 19th-early 20th-century art movements originated in France. Impressionism originated as an artistic reaction to the rapidly changing urban environment while post impression originated as a reaction to impressionism. Thus, this is the main difference between Impressionism and Post Impressionism.

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Reference:

1. “Post-Impressionism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Jan. Available here. 2. “Post Impressionism.” Art Movements, Available here. 3. “Impressionism.” Art Movements, Available here.4. “Post-Impressionism Movement Overview.” The Art Story, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “CLAUDE MONET’S “BATHERS AT La Grenouillere” 1869″ By ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr2. “Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Luncheon of the Boating Party – Google Art Project” By Pierre-Auguste Renoir – mgHsTKDNJVzPAg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia3. “Van Gogh – Starry Night – Google Art Project” By Vincent van Gogh – bgEuwDxel93-Pg at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia4. “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884” By Georges Seurat – Art Institute of Chicago (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia