Questions for Unit One: Monet and Impressionism Essay

Questions for Unit One: Monet and Impressionism

Which problems concerning the representation of reality confronted French painters in the mid-nineteenth century?

            Nineteenth century artists attempted to return the use of curvilinear perspective to art, in other words             they drew the lines of buildings and walls as they are seen-            curved- rather than straight. The problems         with this were of a philosophical nature- for if you draw a line as a curve that is already curved then it will be             double curved.

             Elkins, Jim “What is Perspective?” retrieved on May 25, 2009 from  

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2.      In what ways did the development of photography pose a philosophical problem to painters?

Many artists felt that photography, since it was a mechanical process, would only be a soulless portrayal of stark reality and would never be of the aesthetic or intellectual level that art provides.  Others felt that it would only be a tool and never actually an artistic endeavor within itself.

Sirota, Alex “Photography – a new art or another scientific achievement?” retrieved on May 25, 2009 from

How did the painters respond creatively to these dilemmas?

            Photography soon stirred a movement known as Pictorialism in which the subject           of the picture was less           important than the artistic effect of the image- aesthetics and emotional impact are two examples.        Henry Peach Robinson was a leader in his movement

Sirota, Alex “Photography – a new art or another scientific achievement?” retrieved on May 25, 2009 from

How did their solution to the problems suggest a shifting pattern in the way that Europeans conceived of their relationship to reality?

Since the Renaissance Europeans had sought more realism in their art.  The use of the “camera obscura” was the first effort as adding realism by creating the reflection of faraway objects in paintings.  The photographic realism gained popularity with the daguerreotype and continued with the new and innovative pictures created by photographers.


Sirota, Alex “Photography – a new art or another scientific achievement?”retrieved on May 25, 2009 from

Describe a situation in which you had trouble knowing whether what you saw was real or not real.  Did the light affect the way you interpreted what you saw?

      When I was a child I was fascinate the appearance of what would look like water on a paved road in

            summer.   We would be driving and in the distance the pavement would look like liquid tar, but as we             approached it would quickly disappear.  When I finally said something about this, my grandfather             explained that it was similar to a mirage- that it was a trick of light and heat.  To this day however, there    is something mysterious about these places to me- as if they were a portal opening to another dimension.