Be careful when you insult an artist. You may be making art history.
Art criticism is probably as old as art itself and often comes in harsh tones. Plato was no friend of artists, describing them as tricksters and called for their banishment from his Republic. Yet more than once a critic’s insult has ended up naming an art movement.
In 1874, Louis Leroy wrote about an exhibition of a group of artists that included Monet, Pissarro, Degas, and Renoir, who called themselves Le Société anonyme. In a mocking tone, Leroy said of Monet’s Impression: Sunrise,
Impression; I was certain of it. I was just thinking that as I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it. And what freedom! What ease of handling! A preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more highly finished than this landscape!
At the end of the review, Leroy pretends he saw a mad admirer dancing around the painting, singing ““Hi-ho! I am impression on the march, the avenging palette knife…”
The article was called “The Exhibition of the Impressionists.” The name stuck.