The Definition of Impressionism

Factory on the Banks of the Oise, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône

1873 Williamstown (Mass) Clark Art Institute

 PDR 300

 One warm spring day, Pissarro took his easel to the banks of the Oise River and made a painting that is archetypical of the Impressionist movement. It contains nearly all of the characteristics commonly associated with the Impressionist style: the lavish portrayal of sunlight; the consciousness of the changing weather as grey clouds crowd the intense blue sky; the presence of modernity in the new factories lining the bank of the Oise River; and the immediacy of the scene which bespeaks en plein air painting.

The painting itself has a classic composition divided almost equally between the sky and the earth with the river dwindling away on the right side. The water, still as a mirror, reflects the smokestacks and buildings on the other side and connects them with the freshness of the spring flowers in the right foreground. The factory, a distillery, had just been completed in 1872. The white building with the small smokestack is still there along with a few of the small buildings.



1 Response to “The Definition of Impressionism”

  1. 1 patty lurie March 17, 2012 at 9:24 am

    hi hi, another great post. I love that painting. its amazing to look at pissarro’s paintings and how they are now. some are so similar and others have changed completely. this one is as you know so different. it was a more gentle time for sure. love,kissses

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