Birthplace of Impressionism

Press release

Triennial Normandy Impressionism Festival Returns in 2016 From April 16 to September 26, 2016, the third triennial Normandy Impressionist Festival ( is set to celebrate the most famous 19th-century art movement in the very same French region where it all began. The popular subject of "Impressionist Portraits" has been selected as the focus theme, a lens through which the history of Impressionism can be viewed in a contemporary light.
The Impressionist movement traces its origins to Normandy in the mid 1870s, when Claude Monet, the father of the form, hastily chose "Impression, soleil levant" ("Impression, Sunrise") as the name for his now-legendary, hazy and pallid oil painting of the sea at the port of Le Havre. The use of the word "impression" was in keeping with the times, when it described the colorful impact, captured on canvas, of a natural scene on a painter. The subsequent term "Impressionism," first used by art critics, was derogatory, but it was embraced by the artists who practiced it. Now, nearly 150 years later, Impressionism stands as a formative movement associated with the dawn of the modern age in art. Back in its earliest days, free-thinking artists like Monet, Eugène Boudin, William Turner, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir and many others abandoned their studios and took to the outdoors, especially in Normandy, and recorded their impressions of what they saw. For decades they were attracted to the Normandy light, and painted everyday life in the now-famed seaside resorts of Trouville, Deauville, Dieppe and Honfleur, as well as on the banks of the Seine, at the foot of the cliffs at Étretat, in front of Rouen cathedral and in their private lily-filled gardens. Today, the Normandy Impressionist Festival captures that same spirit – of light, nature and movement. Celebratory and participative, the Festival invites visitors to rediscover new perspectives of both Normandy and Impressionism. Masterpieces from around the world are being brought together with Normandy's two Impressionist collections, among the largest in France, to celebrate the region and inspire new generations of artists to interpret Impressionist themes in new and contemporary ways. The focus this year on portraiture, which places individuals at the heart of the festival, will also be an important part the collective project the Festival is triggering. The upcoming Festival consists of hundreds of public exhibitions, riverside picnics and other cultural and educational activities, as well as multidisciplinary events showcasing music, theater, literature, art, dance and more, all organized by the cities, towns, associations and individuals across the region during the extended summer of 2016. In addition to more than two dozen smaller portraiture exhibits ( approved thus far, the five largest exhibitions will be held at the Musée des Beaux Arts of Rouen, Musée des Beaux Arts of Caen, Musée Eugène Boudin of Honfleur, André Malraux Museum of Modern Art (MuMa) of Le Havre and Musée des Impressionnismes of Giverny.


Edouard Valère
Normandy Tourist Board