n 1872, in the French port city of Le Havre, 32-year-old Claude Monet made a painting that would give an art movement its name. Monet called his painting Impression, Sunrise. It was a quick, brushy harbor scene — small boats and watery reflections in pinks and blues and oranges. When Monet displayed the painting in Paris, along with similar works by artist friends, a sneering critic called the show “The Exhibition of the Impressionists” — and a movement was baptized.
Visitors to the Andre Malraux Museum on the Le Havre waterfront can see what the great impressionists saw — the English Channel, full of glints and glimmers as light catches its currents. Museum guide Emmanuelle Rian says the impressionists’ fast strokes, their scenes of ordinary life, and the glimpses they left of unpainted canvas were brand new and brave — “a real revolution in painting.” She says impressionism advanced more in two decades than many artistic movements did in two centuries.