The French writer, Émile Zola, claimed that the Impressionists were selling sketches that were hardly dry. What is an example of an Impressionist painting that represents Zola’s description?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, the name of Claude Monet is evoked when one describes the painting that seems to yet have wet brush strokes. One of Monet's paintings that may well fit the description proffered by Emile Zola is The Rue Montorgeuil that Monet completed in 1878 and now hangs in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. This painting is a depiction of a boulevard viewed from a upper window during the June 30, 1878 festival, a celebration of what the government termed "peace and work." This day was declared a celebration to honor France's recovery from the defeat of 1870 from Prussian and German victories in the Franco-Prussian War and help to strengthen the position of a still fragile Republican regime.

The colors that predominate in this Impressionistic painting are the red, white, and blue of modern France.  The flags hanging from the tall buildings that line the boulevard are a blur of the three colors; the people in the street are mere shadows and single line strokes of the brush. Only the small area of the sky between the high buildings is defined with purposeful dabs of light blue around white clouds. The painting is, indeed, an impression of color rather than a study of shape and line.

Interestingly, the writer, Guy de Maupassant, who like Claude Monet was a Norman and an avid oarsman, met Monet when Monet was staying at Etretat in 1885. Later, Maupassant wrote a fictional letter in which he cast himself as a landscape painter who met Monet. Admiring the speed of the Impressionist, the writer exclaims in hyperbole that the painter "caught a burst of rain on the sea in both hands and flung it onto the canvas." Certainly, this remark underscores that of Emile Zola.