Did Impressionist Artists Have Poor Vision?

Impressionism, an artistic movement started in the late 1800s, was less precise in its depictions than other types of art, and many well-known Impressionist artists' vision became poor as they progressed in their careers. The artists tended to use brighter colors and more modern subject matter, and their poor vision is thought to account for the appearance of their later paintings, rather than being stylistic choices. For example, one of the most well-known Impressionists was Claude Monet, whose later works became less detailed and had more vibrant colors as he suffered from cataracts that eventually clouded his vision to the point of requiring him to paint from memory.

More about Impressionist artists:

  • The Impressionist movement got its name in 1874 from Louis Leroy, a critic who panned Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise as being an impression rather than a detailed painting.

  • Synthetic pigments for paint were invented in the 1800s, which accounted for bright colors that had never been seen before in paintings, such as Cerulean blue, in Impressionist works.

  • One of the founders of the Impressionist movement, Edgar Degas, suffered from retinal disease toward the end of his career. Many art critics believed he was changing his style to abstract, but he was actually unable to see details.
More Info: metmuseum.org

Discussion Comments


Even though these artists may have suffered from failing eyesight, nothing takes away from the fact that their work is brilliant in the eyes of the viewer.

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