This small painting has become one of Monet's most important works by virtue of the title he chose for it, and to fully understand Monet's work it is necessary to understand the significance the word "impression" had for him. One of the canvases submitted for the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874, this was singled out by an antagonistic critic as typifying the "half-finished" look of all the works on show, and he dubbed the group "Impressionists."
In the personal terminology Monet used to describe his various types of paintings he would normally have called this work a pochade (sketch). However, as he said himself, he called it "impression" because "it really could not pass as a view of Le Havre," and he subsequently used the same word for a number of his paintings, all of them quick atmospheric sketches capturing a particular light effect. An "impression" for Monet was a special and limited form of sketch, and although the other Impressionists accepted the word as a reasonable description of their aims, Monet himself used it only when he felt it appropriate to a particular work. excerpt from Monet by Trewin Copplestone