Claude Monet : Impression, soleil levant / Source wikipedia

On April 15, 1874. On that day, 31 artists gathered to exhibit their works in the former studio of the photographer Nadar, located at 35 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris.

The name of the movement comes from the title of one of Monet’s paintings, Impression, soleil levant painted in1873. Indeed, a journalist of the time titled his article « Le salon des impressionistes ». It was ironic, a bit mocking. However, this name has stayed and has become associated with a recognized and appreciated movement worldwide.

The real innovation is to have steered painting in a different direction: freedom in both style and subject matter:

  • the emerging industry that devours landscapes
  • the society of worldly leisure
  • the bourgeois urban world

The Salon of the Rejected:

In 1863, the salon was the only place where an artist could exhibit their works. These works were either accepted or rejected by an academic jury.

In 1863, around 3000 works were rejected out of the 5000 proposed. Napoleon III then visited the place and created the Salon des Refusés which was held in another part of the Palais de l’Industrie. Upon its opening, the Salon des Refusés received numerous visitors, but the public came mostly to mock the works.

Here are examples of works that were exhibited at the Salon des Refusés: « Déjeuner sur l’herbe » (1863) by Édouard Manet « Olympia » (1863), exhibited in 1865 and criticized for its realism and the fact that it wasn’t a scene drawn from mythology.

Link to Musée d’Orsay exhibition