Sunset at Lavacourt (1880)
Impressionism has played a significant role in the history of painting, because it characterizes a spirit of innovation. Although Impressionist paintings provoked strong negative reactions and even censure when they first appeared, eventually they gained worldwide acclaim.The Impressionists broke away from the Academy with a new vision of the world, focused on depicting the environment that surrounded them with particular attention to light and its ephemeral, changing qualities on the landscape. To achieve this effect, they used a new palette and worked with different brushtrokes.

Impressionism attempted to capture an immediate impression--painting outdoors in front of the scenes that artists actually witnessed as they worked. Since studio work was considered the norm, painting outdoors was considered to be unconventional. Among the Impressionist painters, Claude Monet seemed to be the most "rebellious" in the eyes of the critics during that time. His passion was to capture the scenes of the countryside as well as the scenes of everyday life--considered simplistic by his critics. He created his works "en plein air"--meaning in the "open air", outdoors.

The River (1868)

Monet spent many years painting a wide variety of subjects, with concentration on his favorite landscapes.  In The River (1868), the figures are bathed with the sunlit atmosphere and the water.  The picture as a whole reproduces the effect of a momentary glance, an approach often practiced by the Impressionists.

La Grenouillere (1869)
As early as 1869, Monet started to paint at La Grenouillere along with his close Impressionist friend, Pierre Auguste Renoir.    Having worked together at the bathing place, Monet and Renoir discovered that shadows were colored by their surroundings not solely in brown or black, but that the colors of the shadows were modified by the light in which they were seen, or by reflections from other objects.

Bridege over the Thames (1903)              
In the 1890s, Monet started to create paintings in series; he depicted the same subjects under various conditions of weather, light, and at different times of the day.  Monet's series of Bridge over the Thames (1903) was one of his most famous projects.  In order to execute the Thames paintings, Monet made a journey to London every single winter from the late 1890s to early 1900s.  In this painting, he was able to capture the atmospheric changes that the fog created.

Waterloo Bridge, Grey Day (1903)