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The name, “Impressionism” was derisively given to the work of a group of French painters who held their first exhibition in 1874. Their aim was to render the effects of light on objects rather than the objects themselves. It is the theory and practice of emphasising the subjective impression a writer or character has of reality, rather than attempting to re-create reality objectively. The term was originally applied to the work of a group of nineteenth-century French painters, including Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Jean Renoir, whose paintings are studies in the relationship between subjective perception and reality. Monet, for example, was particularly interested in the effect of changing light on the impression a viewer has of a scene. 

In literature, the term impression has been applied to the technique used by modern novelists such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, and John Dos Passos, of focusing on the inner life of the main character, and on the impression that character has of reality. The term is even more aptly applied to the subjective description found in the poetry of the French and English symbolists and the American imagists. Traces of impressionism may be found in the plays of Irish writer like W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge. 


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