American artists and critics puzzled over the meaning of impressionism when they first noticed the new style in the late 1870s. It was not until the mid-1880s that French Impressionist paintings first appeared in New York and not until a few years later that artists working in the United States began to apply impressionist ideas and techniques to native sites and subjects. They appropriated certain aspects of impressionism − bright colours, sketchy brushwork, modern subjects − and invented others. In this way they adapted or re-invented impressionism for an American audience. These diverse paintings produced in the United States between 1890 and 1900 could all be considered ‘impressionist.’ But what exactly did this term mean to an American audience at that time? Katherine Bourguinon, TERRA Foundation for American Art, gives an overview of the exhibition ‘American Impressionism: A New Vision’ and a careful analysis of individual paintings to help answer this complex question.
Free but ticketed: available on the door or in advance from the Information Desk at the National Gallery.