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France Rightfully Honors Birth of Impressionism

France Rightfully Honors Birth of Impressionism

Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night, 1889, is one of the most famous examples of Impressionism. (Dreamstime)

Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq. By Friday, 22 March 2024 09:09 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

I just attended a press conference and reception at the French Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., to herald in celebrations for the 150th of the birth of the Impressionism style of art.

The original Impressionist group art show took place in the Normandy region of France, renowned for many other significant developments, as well.

We also could have commemorated the upcoming 958th anniversary of the Norman Conquest of England by William the Conqueror! The subsequent blending of Saxon and Norman French languages resulted in contradictory spelling forevermore.

The creation of the Domesday Book, considered the earliest thorough census and tax receivables accounting, has tantalized genealogists for nearly a thousand years and changed the course of history.

There’s a good book, The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication and Glamour,” that focuses on a much earlier time — the late 17th century, during the reign of Louis XIV, the “Sun King.” He put into motion values that the French still cherished 150 years ago and even today.

Concepts were born, such as beautifully appointed boudoirs, hallways filled with mirrors and art, as well as artistry that was even made available to the common folks. No longer were there the plain, wood or stone great halls of Medieval times, whether in a cathedral or an aristocratic home.

There was a serious economic consideration that the clever king developed, along with his finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who conceived of modern “protectionism and trade wars.” Simply put, they figured out if they produced the best of everything, the French people would not want any imported goods and the outside world would clamor for French exports.

You may recall from art appreciation class in school Impressionist painters such as Degas, Monet and Van Gogh, but there were several others. Many were from nearby Paris, but all flocked to Normandy for the beautiful and peaceful environment.

A hundred-and-fifty years ago, some looked askance at the Impressionist movement, because it was a shift from the previous realistic, religious art and dark, formal portraits of nobles. Now, people around the world gasp at the fantasy colors and evocative, misty images of the common people enjoying life.

The gathering was on a beautiful warm night, with people venturing out onto the terrace in the elegant Woodley Park neighborhood. A jazz combo played fun vintage favorites.

It was touching to see a marble bust of former U.S. Ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin. Both the ladies and gentlemen were wearing fabulous fashion.

Another special aspect of Normandy is its cuisine. Delicacies included Norman Galette: the flat, lightly sweet apple cake, as well as Norman cheeses, Champagne (the real stuff!), savory parsnip puree and the deep cupped local oysters flown in. They had a great salinity!

I tried other French oysters in Europe one time and they were the “sweet” kind, which tastes like raw chicken to me. Norman oysters are terrific.

They also served local Calvados — the apple liqueur — mixed with tonic water and garnished with a lemon wedge. It was light and refreshing. The bartender advised that you need the snap of tonic water, not just club soda, so there you have it.

Various representatives of Normandy made presentations. There was a tourism film without speaking that showed the sea and landscapes, boating with people wearing boaters, flowers and gentle-colored painted cottages ... all the things that inspired the Impressionist painters.

Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's youngest female solo violinist. A world-traveler, Fleishman provides readers with international flavor and culture. She's debated Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren and Dr. Phil. Fleishman practices law in Maryland with a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.

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A hundred-and-fifty years ago, some looked askance at the Impressionist movement, because it was a shift from the previous realistic, religious art and dark, formal portraits of nobles.
france, impressionism, art
Friday, 22 March 2024 09:09 AM
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