In the late 1880s and early 1900s, American Impressionism seemed to be the perfect counterpoint for what was happening in the United States. As the Industrial Revolution caused the rapid growth of cities and changing roles for women, painters like Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent offered visions of a gentle, ordered world.
The Impressionists, like their European counterparts, used bright, vibrant colors to capture the effects of light and atmosphere. The artists' goal of capturing a moment often resulted in images that were both timeless and universal. The paintings, as described by one critic in 1908, transcended "the petty disturbances of the world."
The Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Mass., is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary with the show "American Impressionism: Paintings of Promise." From now until Jan. 4, visitors can view nearly 50 paintings, watercolors, and pastels. Major themes include landscape, portraiture, the female experience, and Japonisme (art inspired by Japanese prints).
The related exhibit "American Impressionist Works on Paper," features smaller, more intimate works and runs concurrently.