Everybody knows that the art world is a very fickle place; many artists die poor and unappreciated, only to have their works sold for millions of dollars later on. It might be said that some artists are simply too far ahead of their time, while others simply fail to gain the critical acclaim that they rightfully deserve during their lives. With this unfortunate (but true) tendency in mind, here are history’s 5 greatest paintings that were not appreciated in their own time:
Claude Monet – arguably the most famous and accomplished painters of the influential impressionist movement – was not always seen as the master that he was. Monet was involved in a groundbreaking movement within the impressionist era known as “en plein air,” which refers to the act of painting outside. One of Monet’s most revered pieces, “Impression, Sunrise,” painted in 1872 was the result of Monet’s participation in the technique of “en plein air.” In fact, it was through the title of this work that Impressionism was given a name. But though the painting is considered to be a masterpiece today, critics at the time were not as impressed. “Impression, Sunrise”, and Impressionism in general, was thought to look unfinished and hastily completed, as if a sketch for a future work rather than the work itself. Many famed critics saw Impressionism, embodied in “Sunrise,” as a threat to traditional Parisian painting, which was firmly rooted in realism. “Impression, Sunrise” is painted so that the viewer can determine for himself what the subject matter or message of the piece is. This participation of the viewer in discerning meaning was thought by critics to be a weakness of the work in the mid-nineteenth century. The artist, after all, was thought to be the authority, not the viewer. Since this time, modern critics have come to see the skillful nature and groundbreaking craft employed in the painting of “Impressionism, Sunrise,” as Monet painted the beauty he found in the ordinary, physical world rather than the elevated, metaphysical world.