Impressionism

Skyler Watrous

A Look at Impressionism Visually

Impressionist artists focused more on the impressions that an object made on them at that moment rather than focus on precise detail and a careful, realistic finish.

In Art

Artists like Edgar Degas (top right) and Claude Monet (left) were famous Impressionists. Unlike other realistic paintings with fine details, these paintings are more rough and "in the moment".

So What About Impressionism In Literature?

Impressionism in Literature

Tries to capture a feeling of instantaneity by presenting something as it is seen or felt by the author or a character in a single moment while the events are occurring.


While the audience experiences it at the same time as the subject or character, many details may not be clear since the subject has not had time to process what is happening.


Like an Impressionist painting, the details seem fuzzy until you stand back and are able to look at the work as a whole.

Well Known Authors Include Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I saw a face amongst the leaves on the level with my own, looking at me very fierce and steady; and then suddenly, as though a veil had been removed from my eyes, I made out, deep in the tangled gloom, arms, legs, glaring eyes – the bush was swarming with human limbs in movement, glistening, of bronze colour.


The reader experiences this event at the same time as the character and, therefore, must process it at the same time as well.

Your Turn!

Find examples of Impressionist work or an Impressionist author

Works Cited

Harmon, William, and C. Hugh Holman. "Impressionism." A Handbook to Literature. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. 266.


"Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad." ManyBooks.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.


"Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." Edgar Degas: The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage (29.160.26). N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.


"Sedef's Corner." : Claude Monet. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.


Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.