When French artist Claude Monet first painted Impression, Sunrise, it was dismissed by critics.
Almost 150 years later the artwork is not only iconic, but marks the beginning of the impressionist movement and is viewed as a history-changing piece.
For the first time, Australian audiences will have the opportunity to see the masterpiece when the National Gallery of Australia's Monet: Impression Sunrise exhibition opens on Friday.
Normally housed within Musée Marmottan in Paris, the artwork rarely leaves France.
"Impression, Sunrise is an icon, but it's also our icon. We need it at home, so it is very rare to send it on the road and usually it only leaves for one month, so having it here in Canberra for three months is exceptional," Marmottan scientific director Marianne Mathieu said.
The Marmottan hosts the largest Monet collection in the world, with more than 100 paintings donated to the museum by Michel Monet, the artist's son.
"It is our duty to promote Monet all over the world and to celebrate our 85th anniversary we wanted to have a major exhibition overseas and we decided to bring the exhibition here," Ms Mathieu said.
"Visiting the exhibition is also important because we're talking about a painting.
"We all think we know a painting through posters but people have to experience the real painting to really understand why it's so important. Unless you've seen it, you don't know it."
Impression, Sunrise joins the National Gallery's own Monet paintings - Waterlilies and Haystacks - as part of the 59-piece exhibition, which tells the story of how impressionism began.
Along with the Monet pieces are works by artists including JMW Turner (lent by the Tate London), Eugene Boudin and Gustave Courbet, who all inspired the young artist.
"The exhibition leads you through the wonderful narrative and story that Monet unfolds for you," National Gallery director Nick Mitzevich said.
"He goes to Paris, he discovers so many exciting things and what's to progress art. He then sees the work of Turner in London and then returns and paints Impressions, Sunrise.
"The exhibition unfolds in that the works that then are produced become icons of art history and then move on, and change the course of art history.
"Monet is a subject that Australian art has loved and we've had many Monet exhibitions here over the years but this exhibition does something that we haven't seen in Australia before. We define the spark that started impressionism."
- Monet: Impression Sunrise opens at the National Gallery of Australia on June 7 and runs until September 1.