Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Artist Names: Impressionists

Bonjour, mes amis!

A few weeks ago, we hung out in Florence with the Italian Renaissance artists. Today, we're off to Paris with the Impressionists!

The Impressionist period arguably began what we call "modern art", or art for art's sake. They were concerned with how to paint what the eyes see - blurriness, light, movement, etc. Today, their paintings are very popular, but when the paintings debuted, the response was controversial.

Claude Monet (Oscar-Claude Monet)
Possibly the most famous of the Impressionists, his "Impression, Sunrise" is what gave the movement its name. Claude Monet was active in the art world for over 60 years, producing hundreds of paintings. Among the popular include his water lily series and the haystack series. Claude is a bit dated, but the name Monet has been recorded by the SSA since the 1950's - 35 baby Monet's were born last year. Trivia: his two sons were named Jean and Michel, and his step-children were named Blanche (who married his son Jean), Germaine, Suzanne, Marthe, Jean-Pierre, and Jacques.

Auguste Renoir (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)
While Monet's art focused a lot on landscapes, Auguste Renoir's focused on people - especially women. His portraits are incredibly beautiful, and show the personality of their subjects well. Renoir himself made thousands of paintings, which are on view worldwide. The last name Renoir doesn't have quite the draw of Monet as a first option, but the name Auguste is a cute, less-popular way to get to the nickname Auggie. Auguste, also used for girls, means "venerable".

Mary Cassatt
One of the few female artists working during this time, Mary Cassatt is known for her paintings of the private lives of families, especially mothers and children. She was born in the United States but spent much of her career in France, working alongside other Impressionist artists, including her close friend Edgar Degas. The name Mary has a rich history and classic feel, but I think Cassatt is a viable modern option. It's unisex, allows for the nicknames Cass or Cassie, and has a trendy -tt ending. Choosing a name that honors an early female artist would pave the way for a creative life!

Edgar Degas (Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas)
Known for his paintings of dancers, Edgar Degas' artwork can be seen today in dance performance venues around the world. But his art shows a kind of experimentation with color and angles not normally associated with "high art". The last name Degas, like Renoir, is a little removed to be considered as a first name, but might work as a middle. Edgar is a quaint alternative to Edward, but keeps the nickname Eddie. It means, loosely translated, "wealthy spearman", and is currently at #300 in the US lists (compared to Edward at #160).

Camille Pissarro (Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro)
An artist central to the community of Impressionist painters, Camille Pissarro was influential to many later artists. His subjects included mostly landscapes and portraits of the "common people", and today his legacy is that of an accomplished "father" and teacher. Pissarro isn't great as a first name (look at the first syllable) but Camille for a boy is rarely heard in the US. It might be a nice option next to Cameron or Camden, though. Trivia: while Pissarro had eight children, I was only able to find the names of his five sons: Lucien, Georges Henri Manzana, Ludovic Rodo, Félix, and Paul-Emile.

Berthe Morisot (Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot)
Like Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot was one of the few female artists working at this time, and she was also known for her portraits of women. She was also a model for some of the other Impressionist artists, and married the brother of Édouard Manet. The name Morisot sounds a bit like Morrissey or Morrison - not unusable for a little one. Berthe, on the other hand, is a bit hard to pronounce for English speakers - "Bayrt" - and corresponds to the unseemly Bertha. Her siblings' names were also unusual: Yves, Edma, and Tiburce.

Any artists that I missed? What names do you like? Tell me in the comments!

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