Impressionist Painting on Stamps
by George Speers
CThe impressionistic movement was a reaction to traditional art
represented by Gainsborough who painted The Blue Boy. Other
traditional painters include William Hogarth, Jan Reubens and
Sir Joshua Reynolds.
The impressionists chose scenes from everyday life, especially
outdoor scenes and people from ordinary life. They eliminated
minor details, avoided black and brown and used short
brushstrokes of primary colors, especially red, yellow and blue
and complementary colors, especially green, purple and orange.
Their aim was to present the naturalness and immediacy of a
Among painters who were classified as impressionists were
Frederic Bazille, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot,
Edouard Manet, Gustave Cailleboite, Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissaro. Clause Monet was likely the
most famous of them all.
Impressionists painted both human beings and natural scenes in
various locations. There were scenes in cafes, in various arts
settings, especially ballet and opera scenes, in parks, beside
or in the water, including many boating scenes, in shops, in
travel scenes and in the countryside.
Countries and issues
The country that feature impressionist painting the most is
obviously France, the birthplace of Monet. However, several
other countries issued impressionist stamps include Australia,
Poland, Guinea, Monaco, Sharjah, the U.S.A. and Great Britain.
France has several issues devoted to impressionism, including
the set of ten stamps in the issue Normandy, Cradle of
Impressionism (2010), which included three Monet paintings,
including View of the Raven and the Water Lilies.
Australia issued a set of four stamps featuring Australian
impressionist painters in 1989, Poland, a set of four stamps
featuring Polish impressionists in 2005, Guinea, a set of six
stamps featuring impressionist painters in 2010, Sharjah, an
issue of a stamp featuring Winslow Homer’s painting Stormy
Waters in 1968 and Monaco, the Monet painting, Impression:
Sunrise, in 1974.
The USA has issued some stamps featuring impressionist
paintings. Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer and J. A. M. Whistler
were considered impressionists, but few stamps feature their
paintings. There’s a stamp featuring James A McNeill Whistler in
the set of artists in the Famous Americans issue of 1940 and a
sketch of Mary Cassatt in the 1986 issue on Great Americans.
However, there are only six obvious impressionist paintings on
American stamps. These include a painting of Winslow Homer
entitled Breezing up in the Christmas issue of 1962, a painting
entitled The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt, in the 1967 issue
and four family paintings by Mary Cassatt in the 2003 issue.
In Canada, the Group of Seven painters were influenced by
European impressionism, as were Suzor-Cote, Emily Carr and David
Milne. Stamps featuring their paintings were issued by Canada.
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