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Paris exhibit asks: Was there an Italian Monet?

A visitors looks at the painting ''After Lunch" (La Pergola),1868, by Silvestro Lega, at the Orangerie Museum in Paris, Tuesday April 9, 2013. A new exhibit at Paris’ Orangery museum called “The Macchiaioli: the Italian Impressionists?” explores how a Florence-based art movement that predated French impressionism by a decade was already using the themes of light, the outdoors and spontaneity that’s more associated with the likes of Monet or Renoir. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)A visitors looks at the painting ''After Lunch" (La Pergola),1868, by Silvestro Lega, at the Orangerie Museum in Paris, Tuesday April 9, 2013. A new exhibit at Paris’ Orangery museum called “The Macchiaioli: the Italian Impressionists?” explores how a Florence-based art movement that predated French impressionism by a decade was already using the themes of light, the outdoors and spontaneity that’s more associated with the likes of Monet or Renoir. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

PARIS (AP) — Years before Impressionism — the influential Paris-based art movement — began, a similar style of painting capturing colorful impressions of light may have existed in Italy, according to a new exhibit.

The show at Paris' Orangery museum displays works from 1860s Florence with vivid, dappled light — in a strikingly similar way to famed painters like Claude Monet from the 1870s.

Visitors looks at the painting "towing scene in the Cascine park of Florene" (1864) painted by Telemaco Signorini, at the Orangerie Museum in Paris, Tuesday April 9, 2013. A new exhibit at Paris’ Orangery museum called “The Macchiaioli: the Italian Impressionists?” explores how a Florence-based art movement that predated French impressionism by a decade was already using the themes of light, the outdoors and spontaneity that’s more associated with the likes of Monet or Renoir. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)Visitors looks at the painting "towing scene in the Cascine park of Florene" (1864) painted by Telemaco Signorini, at the Orangerie Museum in Paris, Tuesday April 9, 2013. A new exhibit at Paris’ Orangery museum called “The Macchiaioli: the Italian Impressionists?” explores how a Florence-based art movement that predated French impressionism by a decade was already using the themes of light, the outdoors and spontaneity that’s more associated with the likes of Monet or Renoir. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

The movement was called "Macchiaioli," after the Italian for "stain," to evoke splashes of light in the painting.

"It's practically unknown around the world, but like the Impressionists they used the bright light of open air, contrasting shadows, and they wished to rebel against academic painting by going out and in the open air," said curator Beatrice Avanzi.

"The Macchiaioli: the Italian Impressionists?" show runs Wednesday through July 22.