In April 1838 the first ocean liner, the Great Western, steamed from Bristol to New York in 15 days and began regular service. Other companies soon copied the steamship’s success. In 1840 Cunard Line’s Britannia launched comfortable state-room ocean liner service for trans-Atlantic passengers. By 1858 the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable had been laid. Thus easy links between Europe and the “New World” were born.
The first luxury ocean liner, HMS Britainia, in an 1849 painting by Fitz Hugh Lane,
Nothing more dramatically impacted the history of art than the invention of photography in 1837. By January of 1839 the process had developed so far that the first complete practical photographic process was announced. No longer was the hand the only way to create an image. Suddenly fine art had been freed from literal depiction.
Louis Daguerre, Boulevard du Temple, 1838
The first known photograph of the White House, 1845. John Plumbe, Jr
Felix Nadar, portrait of Eugene Delacroix, 1858
Honore Daumier, Nadar Elevating Photography to an Art, lithograph 1863.
The judges of the Paris Salon of 1863, the Académie des Beaux-Arts had refused to accept more than 2,000 paintings submitted to its annual exhibition, many because they had failed to meet the fundamental criteria of the Académie of near-photo-realistic narrative.
Thus a second official exhibition was held. By command of Emperor Napoleon III, the Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Refused Works) was organized at the Palais de L’Industrie to exhibit paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by artists whose works had been rejected by the jury of the official Salon. Like the Salon, honor, not commerce, was the artist's ultimate reward.
King Charles X Distributing Awards to the Artists at the End of the Salon of 1824, in the Grand Salon at the Louvre , oil on canvas, Collection Louvre, Paris, 1827, 51.2 x 100.8 inches
Although photography was first employed only as a craft, its potential soon came to be recognized as fine art..
In less than a generation the advent of photography swept the western world, from France to America.
From Nadar to Deguerre, photography inspired visual artists to explore expression beyond traditional realism.
A young artist named Édouard Manet exhibited a canvas that had been refused by the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
Édouard Manet (1832-1883): Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass), 1863, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Oil on canvas, 6’10’ x 8’8"
JAMES ABBOTT McNEILL WHISTLER
An American living in London, Whistler was the only American to exhibit in the Salon des Refuses.
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903): Symphony in White, No. 1, 83 7/8 x 42 1/3 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
THE CATALOGUE OF THE SALON DES REFUSES
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Salle Labrouste, Paris, 1868
A copy of this rare catalog is available from the National Library of France for review or download at
THE IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITIONS OF1874-1886
The World's first Art Fairs
CAMILLE PISSARRO I
A young Camille Pissarro would go on to become the only artist to exhibit among the Rufuses who would be the only painter to later exhibit in all eight impressions exhibitions
Camille Pissarro (Dutch-French, 1830-1903): Paysage a la Varenne-Saint-Hilaire, 1863.
Private Collection. Oil on panel, 7 1⁄2 x 9 3⁄4 in
The exhibition catalog of the Salon des Refuses lists works by Camille Pissarro with untraceable titles. As an example of Pissarro’s anti-Academie freedom of expression, this painting typifies the artist’s work of this period.
Pissarro was the only artist to exhibit in all eight subsequent impressionist exhibitions. Conversely, as Manet would later join the Acdemie he never exhibited with the impressionists.
The first art fairs were bon of the Salons at the Louver. The eight Impressionist Exhibitions included artists with diverse gallery relationships. They charged admission. They promoted both the art and the participating artists. They generated sales. And, these exhibitions attracted ever-increasing numbers of visitors, from an initial few thousand to the tens of thousands who attended the later exhibitions.
As revolutionary as was the impressionist movement, itself, while it came to redefine ‘modern’ art, so did the unprecedented marketing methods of these exhibitions establish an ongoing precedent.
THE FIRST IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1874
A group calling itself the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc. exhibited their works together for the first time. The concept of organizing and self-promoting an independent group exhibition intent on making sales was unheard-of. To compete with the French Academy's annual Salon had been unthinkable. The first exhibition of its kind was mounted in the photography studio of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon who was known by the pseudonym Nadar. It attracted thousands of paying visitors and generated a number of sales.
CLAUDE MONET I
"Impressionist,"a word coined by a long forgotten art critic, was intended as a derisive term .
Claude Monet (1840-1926): Impression, Sunrise, 1873. Musée Marmottan, Paris.
Oil on canvas, 18.9 in × 24.8 in
Attacking Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, in his scathing, satirical review, Louis Leroy, a writer for Le Charivari, headlined his article "Exhibition of Impressionists”. Leroy intended to belittle the works--instead, he branded the movement.
Berthe Morisot was the only woman to exhibit in the First Impressionist Exhibition.
The first impressionist exhibition took place from April 15 to May 15, 1874. Thirty artists, 29 men and one woman, displayed 165 works at Nadar's studio space at 35 Boulevard des Capucines. Most notably, all works were for sale. Her canvas, Reading typifies Berthe Morrisot’s early impressionist imagery.
Berthe Morrisot (French, 1841-1895): Reading, 1873.
Cleveland Museum of Art, OH. Oil on fabric, 18 1/8 x 28 1/4 in.
CAMILLE PISSARRO II
Now a mature artist, Pissarro had fully developed a signature style that was to become synonymous with impressionism.
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903): Gelee Blanche, 1873. Musee d’Orsay, Paris. Oil on canvas, 27.5 x 36.6 in.
Pissarro was the eldest of the impressionists. In the spring of 1872 he welcomed his longtime friend Paul Cezanne who came to live with him and his family in Pointoise until, in 1873, Cezanne moved to the nearby home of Dr. Paul Gachet (who was later to become Vincent van Gogh’s doctor) in Auvers-sur-Oise until the end of May 1874.
While working together, Cézanne came to discover Pissarro’s impressionist painting while Pissarro explored Cezanne’s compositional structure.
No artist who participated in these exhibitions would come to more greatly influence the history of art than Cezanne.
Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906): Bathers, 1874–75. Oil on canvas, 15 x 18 1/8 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Cezanne had exhibited with Pissarro at the Salon des Refuses. The Metropolitan Museum notes that: “While the three works that Cézanne exhibited in 1874 at the first impressionist exhibition were not fully in line with the impressionist technique of quickly placing appliqués of pigment on the canvas, he did eventually abandon his relatively dark palette in exchange for brilliant tones and began painting out of doors, encouraged by the impressionist painter Camille Pissarro (1830–1903). His Bathers of 1874–75 demonstrates a developed style and tonal scale in one of his first paintings of this theme, which recurs in his oeuvre.”
The impressionist works by a young Cezanne (who also exhibited in the Third Impressionist Exhibition in 1877) augur his seminal paintings from the mid-1890s until his death. Called "the father of us all' by Picasso, Cezanne's later development of 'optical phenomenon' (the interplay of light and surface) and 'geometric simplification' was to reinvent modern art. The path from here to his late work, which would later inspire Picasso, and thence lead through Les Demoiselles d'Avignon directly to cubism, is indisputable.
Paul Cezanne - Les Grandes Baigneuses, 1898–1905, oil on canvas, , 6 feet 11 inches x 8 feet 3 inches (210.5 × 250.8 cm) Philadelphia Museum of Art
Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907. Oil on canvas, 8 feet x 7feet 8 inches (243.9 x 233.7 cm) Museum of Modern Art, NYC
EDGAR DEGAS I
Degas, remained apart in style, though not in influence, from the Impressionist Exhibitions.
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917): Bureau du coton à la Nouvelle-Orléans, oil on canvas, 1873, 29.1” x 36.2” Collection: Musée des beaux arts de Pau.
Edgar Degas visited his family in America in 1873. In fact, his only painting to be acquired by a French museum during his lifetime was the Cotton Exchange.
Though this New Orleans canvas was painted in 1873, it was not exhibited until the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876. Linked to the impressionists more by innovative composition and analysis of motion than by stroke, Degas’ palette was generally more markedly subdued than most of his peers.
THE FIRST IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION - THE ARTISTS
The first Impressionist Exhibition included 21 men and one woman. Though many are collected today, a few have long been forgotten.
Photos: Stanislas-Henri Rouart, Self Portrait, 1880
Edgar Degas, Portrait of Rouart in front of his factory, 1875
The artists who participated in the first impressionist exhibition were: Zacharie Astruc, Antoine-Ferdinand Attendu, Édouard Béliard, Eugène Boudin, Félix Braquemond, Édouard Brandon, Pierre-Isidore Bureau, Adolphe-Félix Cals, Paul Cézanne, Gustave Colin, Louis Debras, Edgar Degas, Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin, Louis LaTouche, Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic, Stanislas Lepine, Jean-Baptiste-Léopold Levert, Alfred Meyer, Auguste De Molins, Claude Monet, Berthe Morrisot, Émilien Mulot-Durivage, Joseph DeNittis, Auguste-Louis-Marie Ottin, Léon-Auguste Ottin, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Stanislas-Henri Rouart, Léopold Robert and Alfred Sisley
PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR I
Renoir became the most reproduced, - and often forged - artist to participate in the first Impressionist Exhibition.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919): La Loge (The Theater Box), 1874. Oil on canvas,
50 x 36.2 inches. Collection: Cortauld Gallery, London.
Today La Loge hangs at the Cortauld Institute in London. Few, paintings from this exhibition are as popular. La Loge became so popular, in fact, that reportedly a 20 century forgery of the painting was once acquired by a U. S. President.
In his numerous paintings of World War I flags fluttering above New York, Childe Hassam, who was strongly influenced by the impressionists, may have been inspired by Sisley.
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) Regatta at Molesey, 1874. Oil on canvas, 25.9 x 36 in. collection Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Alfred Sisley was born in England, though he spent most of his life in France. His wealthy merchant family was brought to financial ruin by the Franco-German war of 1870-71 which had forced him to return to London where he painted the Regatta at Molesey. Upon returning to Paris he dedicated himself to his art, often living in great poverty. He was the only one of the impressionist painters who did not meet with financial success during his lifetime. It was only following his death that the value of his work was recognized by an international art market.
Owing to his dedication to the impressionist landscape, Sisley is often considered to be the father of modern plain air painting. “Alfred Sisley portrayed a timeless view of nature in which man, although present, is never the controlling force.”
JEAN-BAPTISTE -ARMAND GUILLAUMIN
Many impressionists abandoned longstanding academic color theory.
Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin (French, 1841-1927): Soleil couchant à Ivry (Sunset at Ivry), 1873. Collection: Musee d’Orsay, oil on canvas
Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin worked for a French government railway before studying at the Academie Suisse in 1861. There, he met Paul Cezanne and Camille Pissarro with whom he maintained lifelong friendships. Guillaumin had exhibited at the Salon des Refuses in 1863. He participated in six of the eight impressionist exhibitions, in 1874, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882 and 1886.
Though he never attained the financial success of a number of his fellow artists, owing to the fact that he won 100,000 Francs in a State lottery in 1891 he spent the latter years of his life in great comfort.
ABANDONING ALL ACEDEMIC COLOR RESTRAINTS
The radical exploration of color of Guillaumin's palate defied former tradition.
The vibrancy of Guillaumin's painting led directlyinto the neo-impressionism of Paul Signac's 1890 portrait of Felix Feneon and thence to 'The Dance', this 1906 Fauve canvas by Andre Derain.
THE SECOND IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1876
The second impressionist exhibition,, then called the ‘Independents’ moved to Durand-Ruel Gallery on Rue le Peletier, off of the Boulevard Haussman. The price of entry was one Franc. 20 artists participated in an exhibition that included 252 pieces. Though she would return to exhibit with the group in the third impressionist exhibition, the birth or Berthe Morrisot’s daughter made it impossible for her to exhibit.
GUSTAVE CAILLEBOTTE I
Notably, Gustavs Caillebotte, a realist painter. was invited to participate in the second ezhibition..
Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848–1894): The Floor Scrapers, 1876. Private Collection. Oil on canvas. 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 inches
Caillebotte is best known for his "evocations of photographic naturalism," as one contemporary critic put it, intending to be taken pejoratively. Though his work incorporates the loose brushwork and subject matter of the impressionists, while frequently celebrating the dignity of the common man, like Degas, he was viewed primarily as a realist.
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR II
Exploration of light, both natural and artificial, frequently hallmarks impressionist paintings. Renoir debuted his Bal du moulin de la Galette in this exhibition.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919): Bal du moulin de la galette, 1876. Oil on canvas, 51.5 x 68.8 in. Collection: Musee d’Orsay, Paris
THE THIRD IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1887
The third impressionist exhibition adapted the formerly disparaging critical name of “impressionist” which was to remain its hallmark. Though only 18 artists exhibited, a number of paintings that were included were to become iconic.
In his review of the exhibition, the art critic Georges Rivière wrote about this painting: "It is a page of history, a precious monument of Parisian life, of rigorous accuracy." The painting was purchased by Gustave Caillebotte, who bequeathed it to the French State in 1894.
EDGAR DEGAS II
Impressionist artists were seldom hesitant to reinvent traditional media. The monotypes of Degas are among his most admired works.
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917): Women in Front of a Café, Evening, 1877. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Pastel over monotype, 16 1/8 x 23 5/8 in.
Degas exhibited ‘Women in front of a Café, Evening’ a small monotype, extensively colored in pastel, in the third impressionist exhibition. Small in format - in direct contrast to the monumental scale of Renoir’s Bar du moulin de la Galette - it is no less powerful.
The Museum of Modern Art writes: “In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process—drawing in ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature. The monotype also sparked a host of experiments for Degas, who often used the medium as a starting point from which an image could be reworked and revised. This process of repetition and transformation, mirroring and reversal, allowed Degas to extend his approach to the study of form. The profound impact of his work with monotype can be seen in his variations in different mediums of key motifs, revealing a new kind of artwork that was less about progress or completion than endless
CLAUDE MONET III
No impressionist artist more extensively explored single subjets from diverse perspectives than Claude Monet,
Claude Monet (1840- 1926): Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877. Art Institute of Chicago. Oil on canvas, 23.6 x 31.4 in.
Monet frequently readdressed themes including haystacks, waterlilies, and the Thames. Monet exhibited eight of his twelve known paintings of the Gare Saint-Lazare in the third impressionist exhibition in 1877. These represented his final urban landscapes, and it is likely that all eight were hung in the same gallery.
Monet wrote: "For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value."
"THE MOST BALANCED AND COHERENT OF THESE EXHIBITIONS"
GUSTAVE CAILLEBIOTTE II
Many art historians consider the Third Impressionist Exhibition to be the most important of the eight. It was guided by Gustave Cailebotte.
Caillebotte contributed six of his paintings to the show, including Paris Street; A Rainy Day
Getty Museum Director, emeritus, John Walsh, describes the background for the 3rd Impressions Exhibition:
"in January or February 1877 a soirée of seven male artists was “arguably the most important dinner party of painters held in the nineteenth century.” The reason for this social occasion was business: to discuss the future of French modern art. It was hosted in the well-appointed Paris apartment on Rue Miromesnil in the Faubourg St Honoré of Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894).
"Caillebotte’s aim was direct: he wanted to foster frank and fruitful discussion among these art practitioners to set strategy and an agenda for the future of French modern painting that included plans for a third exhibition of their so-called “new painting.”
'The third exhibition is considered “the most balanced and coherent” of the eight exhibitions held over a dozen years. Caillebotte contrived, solicited and arranged for what he wanted to see as a “democratic” exhibition of 230 works that represented 18 artists and attracted around fifteen thousand visitors in its thirty-day run.
Art historian Rick Brettell thinks it is fair to say that Caillebotte had just one notable set back during this third exhibition affair—the young art show producer and artist was unable to convince Édouard Manet to “desert the Salon and join forces with the Impressionists.”
Gustave Caillebotte “Rue de Paris, Temps de pluie”,1877, 94 inches by 73 inchs.
CollectionThe Art Institute of Chicago.
THE INFLUENCE OF J. M. W. TURNER
No earlier painter had greater influence on impressionism than a British artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)
No painting more inspired impressionism than than Turner's 'Rain, Speed, and Speed
-the Great Western Railway' of 1844, now in the collection of the Tate, London
THE FOURTH IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1879
The fourth impressionist exhibition included the second and third woman artists to follow Berthe Morrisot; Mary Stevenson Cassatt and Marie Bracquemond
MARY CASSATT I
Both as an American and a woman, Mary Cassatt's participation in the Impressionst expositions was notable. Later it was she, who with Paris art dealer Paul Armand-Ruel, would lntroduce the impressionsts across the Atlatic, first to the United States and from there, eventually, to the world.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844-1926): Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878. Oil on canvas, 35 1/4 x 51 1/8 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C
Though only 14 artists were included in the catalog, two late additions were added which included Paul Gauguin. The 1879 exhibit lacked several notable exhibitors including Cezanne, Renoir, Morisot, and Sisley, however it attracted over 15,000 people who paid a Franc apiece to attend. (The attendance at the first show was only 4,000 visitors).
Seven years before Gauguin moved to Pont Aven and a decade before Martinique, then to Arles with Vincent Van Gogh, and eventually Tahiti, he explored impressionism.
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Beach, Dieppe 1885, oil on canvas 28.1 x 28.1 in. Collection: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
"Paul Gauguin was introduced into the impressionist circle by Camille Pissarro and contributed major works to five of the eight impressionist exhibitions between 1879 and 1886. During these years he transformed himself from a banker-stockbroker into a professional artist and from a family man into a solitary searcher for artistic, moral, and spiritual truths. Yet this vital period of Gauguin’s life has usually been dismissed as an awkward prelude to his brilliant career as an anti-Impressionist.” ‘Gauguin and Impressionism’ Richard R. Brettell and Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark.
In the winter of 2005-06, the Kimbell Art Museum presented Gauguin and Impressionism, the first-ever comprehensive survey of Paul Gauguin's early career.
MARIE BRAQUEMOND - FELIX BRAQUEMOND
Like Degas' monotypes,Felix Braquemond explored non-traditional media. An etching taken directly from the press while wet and itself reprinted produces the subject as a reverse image which is called a counterproof.
Though the noted etcher Felix Bracquemond had been outspokenly dismissive of the impressionists’ style, not only did he participate in the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874, but he married an artist who would become noted for her impressionist painting. Marie Bracquemond participated in the Impressionist Exhibitions beginning in 1879.
Marie Bracquemond (1840-1914) ‘On the Terrace at Sèvres’ oil on canvas,
1880, 34 5/8” x 45 ¼” collection: Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva.
Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914). Portrait of Edwin Edwards,
Drypoint etching,1872, 6 3/8" × 5 3/4". Collection Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York & Félix Bracquemond, Portrait of Edwin Edwards, Counterproof touched with brush and ink, 1872, 6 3/8" × 5 3/4". Collection British Museum, London
CLAUDE MONET IV
Just as the Sisley illustrated above in the first Impressionist Exhibition might have influenced him, Monet, too, almost certainly inspired Childe Hassam's series of Armistice Day flags on 5th Avenue in 1917 illustratedat the bottom of this page/
Claude Monet often explored, and re-explored, a number of his most compelling subjects. He exhibited The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of 30 June 1878 in the fourth impressionist exhibition. In fact, Monet had produced a second nearly identical painting; Rue Saint-Denis in Paris. The Festival of June 30, 1878. As this had been purchased by the composer Emmanuel Chabrier, only one canvas was shown.
The subject of both paintings was the first national celebration to follow the defeat of Napoleon III in 1870. Both are seen from balconies overlooking a sea of red, white and blue flags rippling above a crowd. While the festivities accompanied the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris, they also heralded the advent of the Third Republic which was officially established a few months later.
The influence of Degas was marked by a return to a neutral title for this exhibition, "Exhibition of a Group of Independent Artists." It no longer included works by Cezanne and Sisley.
Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926): The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of 30 June 1878.
Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 19 5/8 in. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
The Rue Saint-Denis in Paris, Celebration of 30 June 1878. Oil on canvas, 30 x 20 1/2 in.
Musée des beaux arts, Rouen.
LYRICISM,IMPRESSIONISM AND MUSIC
The lyricism of impressionist painting frequently went hand-in-hand with the musical composition of the late 19th century.
Composer, Emanuel Chabrier was well known among the young painters of his day. These included his neighbors Claude Monet and Édouard Manet. As well as Monet's Rue Saint-Denis in Paris, Chabrier's collection notably included the Bar at the Folies Bergere by Edouard Manet, now at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. The portrait of the composer in the collection of Harvard University is also attributed to Manet.
"In his piano and orchestral works he developed a sophisticated Parisian style that was a model for the 20th-century composers Francis Poulenc and Georges Auric. His orchestration was remarkable for novel instrumental combinations. In España for example, his use of brass and percussion anticipated effects in Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1911)." Encyclopedia Britannica
THE FIFITH IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1880
MARY CASSATT II
Beyond her influence as an artist, Mary Cassatt's eye had begun to influence American collectors, notable among the Havemeyer family, much of whose collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1929
The poster for the fifth impressionist exhibition in 1880 omitted the names of the women artists: Marie Bracquemond, Mary Cassatt, and Berthe Morisot. Only the 16 men were listed. Degas protested that this was "idiotic."
The fifth exhibition include 232 pieces by 19 artists. Notable among them was Cassatt's "Five O'Clock Tea (below) and Gauguin's sculpture, a marble bust of his wife Mette.
This was the first year that Monet did not participate because his landscape "Lavacourt" (1880) had been accepted by the Salon. Only Degas, Pissarro, Morisot, Guillaumin and Caillebotte remained from earlier exhibitions. Degas, added his young friend Jean-François Raffaelli (1850- 1924) who exhibited thirty-five paintings.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844-1926): The Tea (Le Thé), c. 1880. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x36 1/4 in.
THE FIRST ART FAIRS
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR III
One art dealer particularly championed the impressionist movement. Paul Durand-Ruel would ultimately expand his Paris gallery to Brussels, London and New York.
Renoir, Portrait of Durand-Ruel, 1910 - Yale University Press 'Inventing Impressionism'
Paul Durand-Ruel was honored by a touring exhibition at the National Gallery, London, the Philadelphia Museum and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris in 2015. A champion of the Impressionists, his Paris gallery was among the venues that hosted the Impressionist Exhibitions. He structured profit sharing arrangements with other dealers to help promote these artists. He commissioned Stéphane Mallarmé, Octave Mirbeau, and Emile Zola to write the prefaces for their catalogs. He brought impressionism to America in 1885, and in 1887 he opened a gallery in New York.
"In 1885, he received an invitation from James Sutton, director of the American Art Association, to exhibit in New York. Mary Cassatt inveigled her brother Alexander, a railroad magnate and one of the men who financed Grand Central station, into acting as an intermediary. Durand-Ruel sailed with 300 pictures (even though Monet was concerned about seeing his pictures “leave the country for the land of the Yankees”) and found there a new, unprejudiced type of collector eager for impressionist art. “The Americans do not laugh,” said Durand-Ruel, “they buy.” Durand-Ruel is the reason why America has more impressionist works than anywhere else outside France." Michael Prodger in The Guardian
THE SIXTH IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1881
EDGAR DEGAS III
When the sixth impressionist exhibition opened in 1881, the exhibition was essentially Degas' show.
Many major artists had left over the years. The 1881 show represented Degas' taste, both in the artists he invited and in reflecting his vision. Pissarro, Guillaumin, Gauguin, Vignon, Morisot and Cassatt remained.
Along with a number of his sketches, the exhibition introduced Degas’ unique sculpture, the 14 year-old dancer, the only sculpture the artist ever showed in public (left). Only after the artist’s death was it cast in bronze in an edition that today ranks it among the most famous works of sculpture of the 19th century (right).
The sculpture was badly received by the critics who almost unanimously proclaimed her to be “ugly.” Young dancers were called petit rats de l’opera, an intentional reference to dirt and poverty. Most had male ‘protectors’. Critic Joris-Karl Huysman called her a “terrible reality.”
The Little Dancer at the National Gallery is a reworked version of the original wax sculpture which was shown in 1881 (possibly finished ca. 1903). Though Degas had proposed that it be cast in bronze, the edition was executed posthumously.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917): Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1889-1881 National Gallery
of Art, Washington, D.C. Cotton tarlatan, silk satin, and wood, 38 3/4 x 14 3/8 in.
(Right) Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1889-1881 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Cast after 1921, partially tinted bronze, bronze, gauze and satin, 38 3/4 x 14 3/8 in.
Although Edouard Manet never exhibited with the impressionists, his influence was omnipresent. Even though he had become immobilized, he had exhibited "Bad aux Follies" at the Salon of 1882. At the beginning of 1883 gangrene had reached one of his paralyzed limbs. Despite the amputation of a leg, he died on 30 April.
As buyers had become rare, it became necessary to open the American market. With the help of Mary Cassatt, a major exhibition was set to open in New York in 1886. Soon, American collectors were quick to compete to own major impressionist paintings. "Le déjeuner des canotiers" was subsequently purchased in 1923 by American Duncan Phillips who wrote that it was destined to become the most admired painting in his collection.
History has proved that Duncan Phillips was right.
THE SEVENTH IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1882
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR IV
The depression of 1882-1885 began in March of 1882. The seventh impressionist exhibition opened on 1 March 1882. Very little was sold.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919): Le déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party) 1880-81. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Oil on canvas, 51 1⁄4 x 69 1/8 in.
THE EIGHTH IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION OF 1886
Following the end of the Depression of 1882-1885, the eighth, and final, Impressionist Exhibition became the bridge to post impression and an eventual official annual Paris Salon des Independants.
Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891): Study for "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte," 1884-85 Oil on canvas.
27 3/4 x 41 inches The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York.
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884. oil on canvas, 81 3/4 × 121 1⁄4 inches, The Art Institute of Chicago,
Neo-Impressionism was introduced, thanks to Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte" marked the onset of the post-impressionist era, a fitting farewell to the Paris impressionist Exhibitions that had forever changed the nature of art marketing.
IMPRESSIONISM REACHES AMERICA
Numerous American artists were to reflect impressionism. Some studied in Paris, others were inspired by the American Art Association and Gallery Durand-Ruel exhibitions in New York. Among these masters of modern painting who become iconic are Willaim Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent.
Text © Aldis Browne, 2019
Mary Cassatt's 'Afternoon Tea' influenced 'The Visit' by William Merritt Chase
Claude Monet 's 'Rue Montorgueil' inspired Childe Hassam's 'Flags Fifth Avenue'
John Singer Sargent payed homage to Edouard Manet's 'Printemps' and Monet's 'Waterlillies'
Much as the advent of photography had given birth to impressionsm, so did impressionism, itself, impact the very genisis of modern art.
It is of little surprise that no movement and so many of the artists who created it are remembered today in art fairs from Paris - to Miami - and far beyond..
THE IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITIONS OF 1874-1886
THE WORLD'S FIRST ART FAIRS
THE SALON DES REFUSES OF 1863
Since 1667, the official Académie des Beaux-Arts 'Salon' in Paris had stood unrivaled as the most important annual art event, world-wide. Traditionally, paintings, hung floor to ceiling at the Louvre, were exhibited for two months. These salons at the Louvre were dedicated to honoring the highest levels of academic artistic achievement, the " perfect finish" of a meticulous style of painting where every detail was included, down to a gaiter button or reflection in the metal in a helmet.
Though nudity was commonplace throughout the paintings in the Salon, a nude woman, seated between two fully clothed men was shocking. Though prostitution was rife in the Bois de Boulogne, it was seldom discussed and NEVER depicted. Manet's Déjeuner sur l’Herbe first caused a scandal, later it came to change the history of art.
A comprehensive catalog of the Salon des refuses was sold for one Franc.
The eighth exhibition of the impressionists reunited many of the artists that had participated in previous years. Degas, Cassatt, Forain, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro all exhibited, along with Pissarro's son, Lucien. Marie Bracquemond showed her portrait of her husband who did not exhibit that year. It was the group’s final exhibition.