Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-19, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 23 January, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2019.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Impressionism is an approach to painting originating in France in the 1860s, which is characterised by attempts to capture the visual impression of the moment, especially the shifting effect of light and colour of landscapes and everyday scenes, usually painted outdoors.

explanatory context


analytical review

The National Gallery (UK) (undated) explains:

The term 'Impressionist' was first used as an insult in response to an exhibition of new paintings in Paris in 1874. A diverse group of painters, rejected by the art establishment, defiantly set up their own exhibition. They included Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas.... What characterises Impressionism for most people nowadays, is both the subject matter and the technique. Landscapes, and scenes from modern urban and suburban life painted in bright, pure colours are typical. Impressionists often began (and sometimes completed) their paintings outdoors rather in a studio. Their rapidly applied brushstrokes are often visible.

BBC Arts (2014) states:

Taking their name from Claude Monet's 'Impression, Sunrise', the Impressionists were established in Paris during the 1870's.

Concentrating on relaying the immediate visual effect of the world around them, using bold brush strokes and contrasts of colour, the artists initially drew heavy criticism for their perceived naive and trivial approach to art.

The subject matter varied from Monet's landscapes to Renoir's boulevards of bustling Paris life and Degas' delicate ballerinas, but all pertained to capture the impression of the moment.

From the late 1880's, public perception gradually changed and the Impressionists received reverence, paving the way for their followers Guaguin, Seurat and Van Gogh.

associated issues


related areas

See also




BBC Arts, 2014, Impressionism Gallery, last updated 2 Septembert 2014, available at, originally accessed 7 March 2013, still available 22 December 2016.

National Gallery (UK), undated,Guide to Impressionism, available at, accessed 7 March 2013, still available 22 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2019


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