The Chronicle of Impressionism





Camille Pissarro


Claude Monet


Edouard Manet


Pierre-Auguste Renoir


 Edgar Degas


Frederic Bazille


Armand Guillaumin


Berthe Morisot


Alfred Sisley


Mary Cassatt


Giuseppe de Nittis


Gustave Caillebotte


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Federico Zandomeneghi


Childe Hassam


Peder Severin Kroyer


Max Liebermann






Paul Cezanne


Charles Angrand


Theo Van Rysselberghe


Georges Seurat


Paul Signac


Henri-Edmond Cross


Vincent Van Gogh



The Impressionists' World


The Impact of Technology

Technological developments helped to promote new artistic ventures in a multitude of different ways. The invention of malleable-lead paint tubes in the 1840s facilitated open-air painting; the discover of a new
range of dyes extended artists' colour ranges; and the researches of chemists such as Eugene Chevreul gave rise to theories about the optical combination of colours that became fundamental to the techniques of Impressionism, Pointillism and Divisionism.
The development of photography in increasingly sophisticated and versatile forms reinforced the Impressionists' concern with what Degas called 'magical instantaneity'. Moreover, it made possible the proliferation of accurate reproductions of works of art, thus promoting visual literacy among an ever larger number of people. In the 1850s the photographer Adolphe Braun started to specialize in reproductions of works of art, which he sold for 15 francs each. Everv year a couple of hundred pictures from die Salon were added to the list, and by 1896 his firm's catalogue contained approximately 20,000 reproductions. It was not so much that this process publicized the work of the Impressionists, but it did make an increasing number of people realize that the naturalistic realism of traditional art was not the only acceptable visual idiom.

The Impressionists and the Press

New printing processes and methods of reproduction created an explosion in the number of papers and periodicals available to a population whose literacy figures quadrupled during the course of the century. The appetite for journalistic writing about art was enormous. 'Today', fumed Monet in 1883, 'nothing can be achieved without the press; even intelligent connoisseurs are sensitive to the least noise made by newspapers.' Indeed the very name Impressionism caught on because Louis Leroy, in a review of the exhibition held by the Societe Anoyme des Artistes at Nadar's old studio in 1874, hit on the device of making Monet's Impression: Sunrise the butt of a piece of journalistic whimsy.
Artist, engraver, playwright and critic, Leroy was typical of a whole tribe of failed or aspiring poets, novelists and dramatists who supplemented their incomes by writing reviews. Albert Wolff, for example, became art critic of Le Figaro - a position of such power that Manet virtually insisted on painting his portrait, despite Wolffs almost invariable hostility to the work of the Impressionists. A good deal of bribery and intrigue went on in the world of art criticism. Artists and dealers paid for fulsome introductions to catalogues; and galleries found that papers and periodicals
were more likely to review exhibitions favourably if they advertised in their columns. Even Manet's portrait painting seems at times to have been used to reward services rendered. Among those whose portraits he painted were virtually all the critics who had been favourable to him including Emile Zola, Zacharie Astruc;, Theodore Duret, author of the first book on the Impressionists, the poet Stephane Mallarme, who was one of Manet's most loyal supporters p.991, and George Moore, the Irish novelist who was also a staunch defender of Impressionism.

Art Dealers

The promotional machinery- that dealers and artists could now command was extremely sophisticated, and had clearly benefited from the marketing and public relations methods developed by commerce and industry. In 1861 there were 104 firms of picture dealers in Paris (by 1958 the number had risen to 275 , plus a number of smaller dealers, such as Pere Tanguy, who sold works of art as a sideline. This increase was no doubt partly due to the fact that many of the dealers now offered their artists and clients a wide range of services, acting as bankers and promoters rather than mere stockists.
The most prominent of these new entrepreneurs was Paul Durand-Ruel, who played a vital role in promoting Impressionism. His father, Jean-Marie-Fortune Durand-Rucl, had inherited a stationery shop, and he expanded into art dealing almost by accident, accepting his customer's works in exchange for brushes, pigments and materials, and hiring them out for students and academies to copy. When Paul Durand-Ruel took over the business after his father's death in 1865, he adopted a more adventurous policy and started selling works by artists such as Delacroix, Corot, Daubigny and Courbet, and other painters of the Realist and Barbizon schools. On the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War he moved to London at the
same time establishing an agency in Brussels  — and opened a gallery in New Bond Street. Introduced by Daubigny to Monet and Pissarro, he exhibited their work in London; and on his return to Paris they introduced him to their colleagues and friends.
Durand-Ruel's energy was boundless, and virtually the rest of his professional career was dedicated to making a success of the new movement. He sent the Impressionists' works to exhibitions all over France; he sent them to Belgium, Britain, Germany, Holland, Italy and Norway; and above all he sent them to the United States, where he opened a branch in New York and was the first European dealer to exploit the potential of the market. Durand-Ruel's approach was to establish a virtual monopoly over the work of certain artists by building up a stock of their pictures, bidding up their prices at auctions and promoting them by every- publicity device then known. He produced a lavishly illustrated catalogue of his stock. published publicity magazines such as the Revue Internationale de Fart et de la curiosite, and maintained contact with a wide range of potential clients.
Nevertheless, Durand-Ruel received only a modicum of gratitude from his artists, who kept on temporarily abandoning him for other dealers and frequently attempted to avoid paying him commission by selling their work direct. The sort of problems he encountered are strikingly illustrated by the machinations over the collection of the Abbe Gaugain. Son of an illiterate labourer, Gaugain had risen to become headmaster of a private school in Paris. He developed a passion for Impressionism and became a regular client of Durand-Ruel. In 1901 Gaugain put his pictures up for sale - including works bought directly from Pissarro and Renoir. Durand-Ruel sent the catalogue to Renoir, pointing out that it included works which hadn't passed through his hands. Shamefacedly, Renoir confessed: 'I was weak enough to be unfaithful to you on several occasions, and dealt directly with the Abbe... but I have had enough of collectors, and I will not let myself be persuaded again.' Durand-Ruel bought Gaugain's entire collection for 101,000 francs; and both Renoir and Pissarro persisted in their devious habits.

The New Paris

By the end of the nineteenth century, although few people would have foreseen the prestige Impressionism was to confer on French art, Paris was universally recognized as the art capital of the world. Moreover, during the course of the century the city had been transformed into a spaciously laid out modern metropolis, with 50 kilometres (30 miles) of new boulevards and a splendid variety of cafes;, restaurants and concert halls, catering for every class of customer. Grandiose public buildings seemed to be springing up everywhere - including the great railway termini such as the Gare de Lvon and the Gare St-Lazare, which was the subject of a series of paintings by Monet, and the massive cupolas of the Sacre-Coeur, which gradually rose above the Batignolles Quarter and Montmartre — the area where Renoir and many other painters lived or had studios. Another feature of the new-Paris was the opening of popular department stores, such as Bon Marche, where the women of the lower classes that appear in so many Impressionist paintings were able to buy cheap but attractive clothes. Even more noticeable were the architectural legacies of the Universal Exhibitions that took place in 1855, 1867, 1878, 1889 and 1900: huge halls such as the Palais de l'lndustrie and the Grand and Petit Palais, and that icon of Paris - the Eiffel Tower.
The Universal Exhibitions Besides contributing to the prosperity of Parisian life, these vast exhibitions helped to spread the fame of French art abroad -something Courbet and Manet were clearly aware of when they staged their own one-man shows just outside the Universal Exhibition of 1867 — but it was only in 1900 that the Impressionists were invited to exhibit within the Fine Arts section of an official show.
All the Universal Exhibitions included large sections devoted to the French colonies, which exposed the French public
in general and artists in particular to the appeal of non-European cultures — encouraging Renoir, for instance, to pursue a fascination with pictorial motifs from North Africa that was originally derived from Delacroix. The Universal Exhibition of 1889 was especially rich in artefacts from Polynesia and the Far East, with whole areas laid out to display the largely unknown cultures of Polynesia, Java and Cambodia; and, in addition to the evident effect these revelations had on Gauguin, they helped to stimulate a reaction against Impressionism among those who yearned for more emotive forms of art.







The Birth of




Catalogue of the First Impressionist


The first exhibition of the Societe Anonyme des Artistes (Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs etc.) was held at 35 boulevard des Gapucincs, in what had until recently been the studios of Nadar, the photographer. A flight of stairs led directly from the street to the rooms, the walls of which were covered in red - a colour favoured by Nadar. Admission cost 1 franc, and the catalogue (edited by Renoir's brother Edmond) 50 centimes. The exhibition, which ran from April 15th till May 15th, was open not only during the daytime but, as a gesture to the working classes, from 8.00 to 10.00 in the evenings. Despite the significance of the event for the history of art, the primary purpose of the organizers was not so much to promote a new style of painting as to escape the constraints of the Salon and to give the artists an opportunity to show their work freely, without the interference of a jury or any State involvement. The society had been constituted as a 'societe anonyme' (a limited liability company) open to anyone prepared to pay 60 francs a year. Each artist was entitled to have, two pictures hung - though this rule was not adhered to. All members had equal rights and could participate in the election of the committee of fifteen members. Originally the Impressionists intended to publish a journal, but this ambition was not realized until 1877. To cover expenses, a commission of 10 per cent was levied on sales. Exhibits were to be grouped in alphabetical order of artists' names, according to size, and hung no more than two rows deep. The hanging was in the hands of a committee chaired by Renoir, who did most of the work himself as other members failed to turn up.
There were 165 works in the exhibition, including five oil paintings and seven pastels by Monet; four oils, two pastels and three water-colours by Morisot; six oil paintings and one pastel by Renoir; ten works by Degas; five by Pissarro; three by Cezanne; and three by Guillaumin. Some of the pictures were on loan, including Cezanne's Modern Olympia, Morisot's Hide and Seek (owned by Manet) and two Sisley landscapes that had been bought by Durand-Ruel. Works exhibited that are well known today included Degas' At the Races in the Country, Monet's Impression: Sunrise and his Boulevard des Capucines, Morisot's The Cradle, Pissarro's The Orchard (painted in 1872) and Renoir's La Inge.
The majority of the participants were not connected with the so-called Batignollcs group and had been recruited by one or other of the sixteen founding members, Degas being especially active in this respect. Most of these 'outsiders' were regular exhibitors at the Salon. Some of the subscribers to the society did not participate.
There were 175 visitors on the first day of the exhibition and 54 on the last, the total attendance being around 3500. Nor was the exhibition disastrous from a selling point of view, although some exhibitors had pitched their prices too high - Pissarro wanted 1000 francs for The Orchard and Monet asked the same for Impression: Sunrise, neither of which sold. Admittedly Sisley sold a landscape for 1000 francs, but that may well have been the result of a manoeuvre by Durand-Ruel. The sum that accrued to the society' from the 10 per cent commission on sales amounted to 360 francs, which implies that 3600 francs worth of pictures were sold. It is known that Monet received a total of 200 francs, Renoir 180 francs and Pissarro 130 francs, while Cezanne got 300 francs for his House of the Hanged Man. Although Renoir failed to achieve the 500 francs he wanted for La Loge, later he managed to sell it for 450 francs to Pere Martin, a small-time dealer and loyal supporter of the group. Neither Morisot nor Boudin sold anything, nor did Degas (most of his works, however, were lent).
The accounts showed that the expenses of the exhibition came to 9272 francs and the receipts 10,221 francs, leaving 949 francs profit, to which were notionally added 2360 francs due in unpaid shares. As a commercial venture it was a failure: the amount the members received was not even sufficient to cover their dues, and Cezanne had to ask his father for money to pay what he owed.

Other Events
-Publication of Flaubert's "La Tentation de Sainte
Antoine" and Verlaine's "Romances sans paroles"

Exhibitors at the first Impressionist exhibition are offered the freedom to show whatever they choose, without the interference of a jury - but the group of painters who have formed the Societe Anonyme des Artistes are saddled with the sobriquet 'Impressionists' by a facetious critic.


Portrait of Claude Monet

This painting was one of the few in the first Impressionist exhibition that was not received with hostility by the critics; indeed, many praised it. The sitters were the artist's brother Edmond and a model known as Nini.

Boulevard des Capucines







An Unfortunate



Contemporary photograph of Nadar's studio in the boulevard des Capucines,
venue of the first Impressionist exhibition




Other Events
-Praxiteles' "Hermes" found at Olympia in Greece
-Corot and Millet die

Renoir convinces Monet, Morisot and Sisley that the best way to raise money quickly is to hold an auction of works at the Hotel Drouot. This attacts far greater numbers than anticipated, but most turn out to taunt rather than to purchase.



Flood at Pont-Marley


The Floor Strippers

Critics such as Edmond Duranty saw the sense of contemporary realism, which was often to be found in Impressionist works, as one of their greatest virtues. This quality was strikingly present in Caillebotte's remarkable picture of three men renovating the floor of his new apartment. The work did not appear in the exhibition catalogue.





Gaining Ground





The second Impressionist exhibition entitled simply 'La Deuxieme Exposition de Peintnre par..." - was held at Durand-Ruel's gallery, 11 rue Le Peletier, from April 11th to May 9th. Some of the exhibitors had no connection with the Impressionists, but there was one important newcomer, Gustave Caillebotte, whose The Floor Strippers was one of the sensations of the show. Caillebotte had been introduced to the group by Monet and Renoir. He was extremely wealthy and supported most of the subsequent Impressionist exhibitions. Another notable supporter of the Impressionists, remarkable for his enthusiasm, was Renoir's new friend Victor Chocquet, who played an active part in promoting the exhibition and visited it every day, eagerly expounding the beauties of the paintings to anyone who would listen.
There were 252 works shown, including twenty-four by Degas, eighteen by Monet, seventeen by Morisot, thirteen by Pissarro. fifteen by Renoir and eight by Sisley. Caillebotte apparently exhibited eight paintings, though they are not mentioned in the catalogue. There were also two works by Bazille, included as a memorial to the artist, who had been killed in November 1870 in a minor skirmish during the Franco-Prussian war. Monet's name and Sisley's were printed incorrectly in the catalogue as 'Monnet' and 'Sysley'.
Arranged by artists, the paintings which were 'easiest' to appreciate were hung in the front rooms and the more 'difficult' ones in the rooms at the back. Degas broke new ground by including photographs of paintings for sale that were not on show. The pictures that attracted most comment were Degas' Portraits in an Office and Monet's The Japanese Girl - a huge portrait of a young woman dressed in a kimono. Although Monet later dismissed this painting as 'rubbish', it sold for the comparatively high price of 2000 francs.
The second Impressionist exhibition attracted wider review coverage than the first, and on the whole critical comment was slightly more favourable. Inevitably there were the usual vicious attacks from critics such as Albert Wolff, who described Renoir's Nude in the Sunlight as a 'mass of flesh in the process of decomposition, with green and violet spots which denote the state of complete putrefaction of a corpse.' Nevertheless, complimentary reviews appeared in left-wing papers such as Le Rappel, La Republique frangaise and La Presse. The English magazine The Academy carried a favourable review by Philippe Burty; and the New York Tribune published an appreciative, although ill-informed, article by the writer Henry James, which compared the Impressionists with the Pre-Raphaelites.
Although attendance figures do not seem to have been very high, the group was able to pay Durand-Ruel 3000 francs for renting the gallery. They were also able to repay the exhibitors the 1500 francs each had advanced, and in addition distributed a dividend of 3 francs.


Other Events
Puvis de Chavannes paints frescoes in
the Pantheon in Paris
Diaz de la Pena dies

All the major Impressionist artists save for Manet are included in the second Impressionist exhibition, and an important newcomer is introduced - Gustave Caillebotte. His work steals the show and helps to make the second exhibition far more of a popular success than the first.




Young Man at his Window


Ball at the Moulin de la Galette

One of several mills in Montmartre, the Moulin de la Galette ('galette' meaning a small pancake) was close to the rue Cortot, where Renoir had taken a studio specifically to paint this scene. Many of the figures in the painting are recognizable as the artist's friends and acquaintances. Well received at the third Impressionist exhibition, it was bought by Caillebotte, who included it in the background of his Self-Portrait at the Easel.






Financial Disaster


The front page of the first edition of the journal L'Impressionniste, which appeared weekly and ran to four issues during the third Impressionist exhibition. The first issue contained a letter to the editor of Le Figaro, attacking the paper's art critic Albert Wolff for his venomous opposition to the movement.



Entitled simply 'Exposition de peinture par...', the third Impressionist exhibition was held at 6 rue Le Peletier from April 4th to 30th. Only eighteen artists participated, compared with thirty in 1874 and nineteen in 1876. Altogether 241 works were on show, including six by Caillebotte, sixteen by Cezanne, twenty-five by Degas, including The Star, thirty by Monet Imostly painted during the previous year), twenty-eight by Pissarro's friend Ludovic Piette, twenty-two by Pissarro, twenty-one by Renoir and seventeen by Sisley. Many of the works were on loan. Of the Monets, for instance, eleven were lent by Ernest Hoschede, one by Manet and ten by other collectors; and of the Sisleys, three were lent by Hoschede, three by Georges de Bellio (a Romanian doctor who was a keen collector of Impressionist paintings), two by the publisher Charpentier, one by Duret and one (The Bridge at Argenteuil) by Manet.
The exhibition was held in a five-room apartment almost opposite Durand-Ruel's gallery, the rent being paid by Caillebotte, who was to be reimbursed out of the admission charges. Extensive advance publicity had been organized - including widely displayed posters, once again paid for by Caillebotte. It was estimated that there were 8000 visitors; and many of them were harangued by Victor Chocquet A. - who was in attendance every day, energetically expatiating on the little-appreciated merits of Cezanne. Coverage by the press was extensive, some fifty reviews appearing in an impressive variety of newspapers and journals.
The largest room contained works by Caillebotte, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley. Degas was the only artist to have a room devoted entirely to his own work. In addition to seven paintings of the Gare St-Lazare (the first of Monet's series), Monet exhibited The White Turkeys - a large painting lent by Hoschedc, for whose house at Montgeron (which can be seen in the background) it was intended, as part of the decorative scheme. Other significant works included Caillebotte's Street in Paris, A Rainy Day, which he had finished the previous month, and his The Pont de l'Europe, painted in 1876. Renoir's masterpiece Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette, also painted in 1876, which was given the place of honour in the third room, dominated critical comment on the exhibition.
The hanging — carried out by a committee consisting of Gaillebotte, Pissarro and Renoir — had been the subject of considerable thought and discussion. Indeed, unlike the previous shows, the third exhibition was very carefully planned and arranged. Most of the works had been chosen with an artistic audience in mind, and there was even a balanced selection of subjects, rural and urban landscapes, genre scenes, portraits and still lifes being fairly evenly represented.
At Caillebotte's dinner party in January a policy had evidently emerged of making the exhibition not merely an opportunity to display the artists' work, but also to establish the Impressionists as a coherent and clearly recognizable stylistic force. Ironically, however, it succeeded in fostering latent rivalries among them and promoted yearnings for individual recognition rather than for closer association. It is significant that at the next exhibition, two years later, Cezanne, Morisot, Renoir and Sisley did not participate.

Other Events
Winslow Homer paints "The Cotton Pickers"
Rodin completes "The Age of Bronze"
Courbet dies

Three years after the first exhibition, 1877 brings no improvement in the Impressionists' financial position, and Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley are particularly afflicted. The third exhibition is not a great financial success and begins to sow the seeds of disunity.




A photograph of Berthe Morisot, taken around 1877
when she was still in mourning after the death of her mother in 1876.









The cover of Duret's study of the lives and work of
Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir and Morisot.



Other Events
-Publication of William Morris' "The
Decorative  Arts"
Daubigny dies

Not only does Manet have to abandon his plans to stage a one-man show outside the Universal Exhibition, but also the Fame and Hoschede Impressionist sales at the Hotel Drouot are spectacular failures, with the paintings either selling for derisory sums or having to be bought in.



Portrait of Jeanne Samary

Singer with a Glove






Publication of

"La Vie moderne"


A poster for the Cirque Fernando in Montmartre,
which Degas started to frequent in 1879.



The fourth Impressionist exhibition - entitled '4e Exposition faitc par un groupe d'artistes independants, realistes et impressionnistes' — was held at 28 avenue de l'Opera from April 10th to May 11th. Altogether, there were fifteen exhibitors. Gauguin was invited to participate, but failed to submit his entries in time to be included in the catalogue. Pissarro had thirty-eight works on show (including four fans and a view of Norwood); Monet exhibited twenty-nine items (mostly landscapes of Vetheuil); and Degas contributed twenty-nine works in various media (including some fans), of which the most prominent was his oil painting Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando.
Monet had not wanted to exhibit, and did not appear at the exhibition. It was Caillebotte who collected his works and hung them; he also lent a number of Monets from his own collection. Cezanne, Renoir and Sisley did not exhibit at all. The imprint of Degas' personality was clearly apparent. In the first place, he insisted that the word 'Impressionist' should not be given undue prominence in the title of the exhibition. Secondly, many of the exhibitors - including Cassatt, Rouart, Zandomeneghi and Forain - were Degas' special proteges.
Attendance was better than at the third exhibition. Admission cost 50 centimes, and on the first day the receipts amounted to 400 francs. At the end of the exhibition Caillebotte reported that there had been 15,400 admissions; all the expenses had been covered, and each member of the group received approximately 440 francs.
One of the visitors was Georges Seurat, then a student at the Ecolc des Beaux-Arts, who was so enthused by what he saw that he decided to leave that institution and work on his own.
Critical reception was generally hostile — much of it harping on the theme, not entirely unjustified, that the Impressionists were finished as a group. But not all the notices were bad. Edmond Duranty wrote a favourable review in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, in which he praised Monet and Pissarro as well as Degas and his circle; and in Italy, Roma Artistica published a long laudatory article.

Other Events
Couture and Daumier die

A surge of confidence among the group is reflected in the founding of 'La Vie moderne', a periodical dedicated to the promotion of Impressionism, the premises of which also house an art gallery. Renoir plays a major part in its conception.



The cover of the first issue of La Vie moderne, published by Georges Charpcntier.

In the Conservatory






Growing Dissent



The poster for the Fifth Impressionist Exhibition.



The fifth Impressionist exhibition was held at 10 rue des Pyramides from April 1st to 30th. From the start, Degas and Gaillebotte disagreed about the title of the exhibition. Consequently, the exhibitors were described as 'A Group of Independent Artists' on the posters (which was Degas' formula), but on the catalogue the title appeared as '5e Exposition de peinture par...'
The premises, on the corner of the rue des Pyramides and the rue St-Honore, were in process of being rebuilt. As a result, there was constant noise and vibration - a fact commented on by the critics, who also noted that the exhibition was badly lit and badly hung. Attendance was poor, and it was generally agreed that this was not primarily an Impressionist exhibition. There were, for instance, thirty-five works by Raffaelli - one of Degas' proteges, who was a kind of academic Realist. On the other hand, Degas himself failed to send in all the works he announced in the catalogue (including a wax statue of a 14-year-old dancer and the Young Spartans Exercising, which he had painted in 1860); and four of the leading Impressionists - Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Sisley — did not participate at all.
As well as nine oil paintings, Pissarro exhibited five groups of etchings mounted on yellow paper in purple frames. There were six paintings by Gauguin (most of them executed at Pontoise under Pissarro's influence) and also a highly finished, almost academic, marble bust of his Danish wife, Mette, sculpted in 1877. Marie Bracque-mond was represented by three works and Felix Bracquemond by two, including a portrait of Edmond de Goncourt in charcoal on canvas that attracted a great deal of attention. Guillaumin contributed twenty-one paintings, which were described by one critic as 'inexplicable barrages of colour'. There were also sixteen works by Mary Cassatt, eighteen by Caillebotte and fifteen by Berthe Morisot.
This time it was not only critics opposed to Impressionism as a matter of principle who wrote unfavourable reviews. Indeed, most damning of all was a piece by Armand Silvestre in the columns of George Charpentier's pro-Impressionist periodical La Vie modeme, who complained that there was 'no trace of the vision that gave the little school the recognition it deserved in the art of recent years' and suggested that some of the pictures on view were not even worthy of the Salon.

Other Events
-Publication of Zola's "Nana",
Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" and
Maupassant's "Boule de Suif"

The artists cannot agree about a title for their exhibition and Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Sisley ultimately refuse to participate. The show is therefore very unbalanced and - badly lit, poorly hung and unsuitably housed — has poor attendance figures and even worse reviews.



Green Dancer

Study of a Nude

This work was admired by Huysmans, who wrote:
'Here is a girl of our time, who doesn't pose for an audience,
who is neither lascivious nor affected,
who is simply concerned with mending her clothes.'



Pages from the catalogue of Manet's exhibition at the gallery
of La Vie modeme in April, with reproductions of two lithographs
by the artist that have since been lost.






Degas Steals the Show




The sixth Impressionist exhibition
ran from April 2nd to May 1st, and was simply titled "6e Exposition de peinturc par...' The premises were the same as for the first exhibition Nadar's old studios at 35 boulevard des Capucines — but it was shown in five smaller rooms at the back of the building that were badly lit, low ceilinged and cluttered with furniture.
Degas exhibited six paintings and a sculpture, which was not in position until April 14th. There were seven paintings and two sculptures by Gauguin; seven works (both paintings and pastels) by Morisot; and eleven by Cassatt. Pissarro contributed twenty-seven works, including a number of pastels in gold frames that were tinted with various shades of green and yellow, with the edges painted in complementary colours. The other exhibitors -all proteges of Degas - were Raffaelli, Rouart, Tillot, Vidal, Vignon and Zandomeneghi.
This was definitely a Degas exhibition, with a heavy emphasis on Realism as one of the alternative hallmarks of the new movement - complementing, or competing with, the stylistic concerns of painters such as Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Sisley. none of whom participated. Even Pissarro though normally more concerned with the considerations that preoccupied the abstainers - was predominantly represented by works of a Realist kind, many of them featuring either rural labourers or the market gardens that had sprung up around Paris to satisfy the needs of the ever-growing population.
In addition to the emphasis on Realism, the exhibition was notable for the almost universal approval given to works by Cassatt and Morisot; and also for the presence of three-dimensional work by Degas and Gauguin. Both Degas' wax figure of the 14-year-old Belgian dancer Marie van Goethem and Gauguin's woodcarving Dame en promenade were remarkable for the almost brutal quality of their appearance, and also for their use of colour - in the clothes of the dancer and in the wood of the walking figure, which was stained red.
In terms of attendance numbers and review coverage the sixth exhibition was not a success. More significantly, it emphasized the schism that had taken place in the movement.


Other Events
-"L'Art moderne" launched in Brussels

The Realist tendencies of the previous year are confirmed in the composition of the sixth Impressionist show, dominated by Degas. Caillebotte believes Degas to be responsible for dividing the group, and joins those boycotting the exhibition.


Le Quai de Bercy

The Boating Party Lunch





Cassatt Sides with Degas



The front page of the handwritten, mimeographed catalogue
produced for the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition


The seventh Impressionist exhibition - entitled the '7e Exposition des artistes independants' — was held in the Salons du Panorama de Reichshoffen, at 251 rue St-Honore. It was in some respects a strange choice of venue: the main attraction of the building was a panorama of one of the most crushing defeats suffered by the French army during the Franco-Prussian war, and the upper sections of the exhibition rooms were adorned with tapestries — limiting usable
wall space to such an extent that several of the exhibits had to be displayed on easels. Nevertheless, the building — designed by Charles Gamier, architect of the new Opera - had come to be accepted as a suitable space for art exhibitions, and bodies such as The French Society of Landscape Painters and the Society of Animal Painters had already shown there.
Although the exhibition was in effect a shop window for Durand-Ruel, who partly filled the rooms with works from stock, the rent of 6000 francs was paid by Degas' friend Henri Rouart, a wealthy engineer and amateur painter who had participated in most of the previous exhibitions (this time, however, he did not submit any work). Unlike the catalogues of the previous shows, the one for the present exhibition was an amateurish-looking production, handwritten and reproduced by a copying process. Presumably because of the nature of the premises, the closing time was eleven o'clock in the evening. On the first day
receipts amounted to 950 francs, suggesting that approximately 1900 people came to see the exhibition; on subsequent days the attendance figure was around 350.
There were about 210 exhibits (not all of which were listed), including thirty-five by Monet, thirty-four by Pissarro, twenty-five by Renoir and twelve by Morisot. Prices ranged from 500 to 2500 francs — the higher price range, fixed by Durand-Ruel, embracing Monet and Sisley. The hanging seems to have been mainly the work of Caillebotte, and a party was held on the night before the opening so friends could view the final stages. As to framing, there was a diversity of styles: Gauguin favoured white frames, Pissarro coloured and gilded ones, and Morisot grey with gold ornaments.
Partly thanks to the active cooperation of Durand-Rucl and the fact that Degas' influence had largely been eliminated, this was the most 'Impressionist' of the exhibitions held to date.


Other Events

-"La Revue moderne" launched in Brussels
Rossetti dies

This year, in an attempt to restore a semblance of unity to the group, Durand-Ruel takes the artists in hand and organizes their exhibition. His motives are partly commercial, as it proves an excellent shop-window for a wide range of his stock


A Bar at the Folies-Bergere






The One-Man Shows


Edouard Manet dies /1832-1883/



(b Paris, 23 Jan 1832; d Paris, 30 April 1883).

French painter and printmaker. Once classified as an Impressionist, he has subsequently been regarded as a Realist who influenced and was influenced by the Impressionist painters of the 1870s, though he never exhibited with them nor adopted fully their ideas and procedures. His painting is notable for its brilliant alla prima painterly technique; in both paintings and prints he introduced a new era of modern, urban subject-matter. In his relatively short career he evolved from an early style marked by dramatic light-dark contrasts and based on Spanish 17th-century painting to high-keyed, freely brushed compositions whose content bordered at times on Symbolism.


Other Events

-Les Vingt founded in Brussels
Gustave Dore  dies

The feuds and struggles surrounding the most recent group exhibitions have led Durand-Ruel to believe that one-man shows might be more successful. Degas — always at loggerheads with his fellow artists -won't participate, but Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley have shows in quick succession at the dealer's Paris gallery.


Dance at Bougival
(Suzanne Valadon and Paul Lhote)

In 1882 Renoir painted three pictures of dancing couples, each located in a different place - the city, the country and at Bougival. At the time very specific social nuances were attributed to the various places of entertainment in Paris. Bougival exemplified a venue frequented by 'decent' couples who were neither oversophisticated nor unduly concerned with sexual encounters. The woman was Suzanne Valadon, who also posed for Renoir and was the mother of Maurice Utrillo.

Provencher's Mill at Moret





The Manet Sale



Other Events
-First Salon des Independants
-Burne-Jones paints "King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid"

The Impressionists attend the sale of the contents of Manet's studio, but find that the paintings have been overpriced by Durand-Ruel. Before long Durand-Ruel himself is threatened with bankruptcy, in response to which Monet and Renoir suggest that he reduces the prices of their paintings.


Madame Mette Gauguin

Women Ironing



Photograph of a Salon jury (c.1885),
showing Tattegrain, Cormon, Dantan, Lefebre, Tony Robert-Fleury, Maignan and other well-known academic artists.



The Wider World



Other Events

-Emile Guimet's collection of Japanese art moved
from Lyon to Paris
New Rijksmuseum opens in Amsterdam

Despite his recent financial setback, Durand-Ruel is more than ever determined to promote the artists and to sell and exhibit their works abroad. He organizes shows in Brussels and Amsterdam, but meets with reluctance from the artists themselves when the opportunity arises
to stage an exhibition in New York.



Woman Combing her Hair

Two Milliners, Rue du Caire




The End of an Era



A poster for the Eighth Impressionist Exhibition


The eighth Impressionist exhibition (described in the catalogue simply as 'Exposition de peinture par...') was held from May 15th to June 15th on the second floor of the Maison Doree, a well-known restaurant at the corner of the rue Lafitte and the boulevard des Italicns.
Degas wrote to Felix Bracquemond early in May : 'We are opening on the 15th. Everything is being done at once! You know that we uphold the condition not to send anything to the Salon. You do not fulfil this condition, but how about your wife? Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte and Sisley have not answered the call. Expenses are covered through an arrangement which I have no time to explain. In case entrance fees do not cover these expenses, we'll pass the hat round among the exhibitors. The premises are not as large as they should be, but are admirably situated... the Jablochkof Company is proposing to install electric lighting for us.'
There were 246 works on show, and exhibitors included Marie Bracquemond, Cassatt, Degas, Forain, Gauguin, Guillaumin, Morisot, Camille and Lucien Pissarro, Odilon Redon, Rouart, Schuffenecker, Seurat, Signac, Tillot, Vignon and Zandomencghi. There was also a Comtesse dc Rambure, of whom Felix Feneon acidly remarked 'the catalogue does not dare to mention her works.'
Preliminary discussions had started in October, and had been marked by even more acrimony than usual. When was the exhibition to be held? Were Seurat and Signac to be admitted? (This problem was solved by assigning them a room of their own.) Was Gauguin's friend Schuffenecker, who had participated in the first exhibition of the Independants, to be admitted?
From the start, it was clear that this was the end of Impressionism in the sense of the movement that had begun in 1874. The guiding spirits of the exhibition were Degas and Pissarro, who by his own conversion to a somewhat diluted form of Pointillism, as well as his insistence on admitting Seurat, Signac and Lucien Pissarro, was making the point that there was a viable successor to the original movement.
The critics — indeed, art opinion generally — concentrated on two aspects of the exhibition. The first was Degas' pastels showing women engaged in activities such as washing or dressing. Typically, detailed analysis of their surroundings — cheap furniture and metal bathtubs etc. — was combined with comments on their physical ugliness ('distressing and lamentable poems about flesh', 'frog-like appearances', 'stout women with swollen flesh, who rest their hands on their buttocks'), culminating in the accusation that Degas was 'a ferocious misogynist' who wilfully debased women, reducing them to 'animal and nearly monkey-like functions'.
The other focus of comment was Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which dominated the exhibition by virtue of its size, its technique and its subject matter. It did not arouse quite so much derision as might have been expected, for it clearly involved a great deal of diligent application - invariably one of the criteria by which the public judged a work of art. A number of reviewers drew attention to the revolutionary qualities apparent in Seurat's representation of all classes of society, including workers, nursemaids and soldiers. But there was also a realization that here was the foundation of a new 'scientific' movement that would dispense with the bravura and individualism of Impressionism. Here, it seemed, was an art which was not fragmentary and did not depend on instinctive and haphazard responses to nature.


Other Events
-New English Art Club founded
-Jean Moreas publishes Symbolist Manifesto
-"Le Decadent" and "Le Symboliste" launched in Paris
-"L'Art Libre" launched in Brussels
Rodin completes "The Kiss"

Despite problems with customs, the New York Impressionist show goes ahead, opening a month before the eighth and last group exhibition in Paris. Sadly, there is a great deal of acrimony among the artists — not least over the inclusion of the 'Neo-Impressionists' Seurat and Signac.


Le Moulin de la Galette

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte

The Tub

In this work Seurat perfected his pointillist technique of applying small points of pure pigment over a layer of fine paint. Its hues and tones, produced by an optical rather than a physical mixture of the paints, had an unprecedented freshness, particularly suited to a scene with strong colours and pronounced contrasts of light and shade.
Although Seurat based this work on sketches done en plein air, he eliminated non-essentials to produce a monumental canvas, entirely devoid of the spontaneity of Impressionist painting.


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