first impressionist exhibition
Thus in a few years the group had found its name. At first burdened with trivia, it had seen the rise of artists who were the first to group themselves to seek and define a new method of translating a modern view. By the number and quality of their works they gave the movement all its significance. But they had not succeeded in asserting themselves as a group or as a commercial or economic success. This failure seemed to indicate that Degas was right because he had always recommended an exhibition without doctrine, in which very diverse tendencies might be brought together solely on the criterion of quality (in this he was often very unfair, not realising that others did not share his likes and dislikes). On the other hand the founder-members of the group, those who regarded it as a community of thought and technique, were tempted to break away again and take their own chance, either with various art dealers (for Durand-Ruel now had several competitors who were trying to entice away his painters) or even by returning to the Salon, as Manet did. So the rising movement of Impressionism, at the moment when it had affirmed its presence and its unity, in fact was on the brink of a grave crisis and of breaking up.
First Impressionist Exhibition (1874)
At 35 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris, the former studio of photographer Nadar, 30 artists displayed more than 200 works. The building was modern and the paintings were modern—pictures of contemporary life painted in a technique that looked unfinished to both art critics and the general public. The works of art could be purchased during the duration of the show.
There was a bright spot in this showing, however. Louis Leroy, a critic for Le Charivari, called his nasty, satirical review of the event “Exhibition of Impressionists,” which was inspired by Claude Monet’s painting “Impression: Sunrise” (1873). Leroy meant to discredit their work; instead, he invented their identity.
Musée Marmottan, Paris/Public Domain
What was included in this exhibition were 232 pieces by 19 artists. Notable among them was Cassatt’s “Five O’Clock Tea” (1880, Museum of Fine Art, Boston) and Gauguin’s debut sculpture, a marble bust of his wife Mette (1877, Courtauld Institute, London). Additionally, Morisot exhibited “Summer” (1878, Musée Fabre) and “Woman at her Toilette” (1875, Art Institute of Chicago).
By Edgar Degas, from Paris (1834 -1917)
1972, accepté par l’Etat à titre de legs de Enriqueta Alsop, au nom du Docteur Eduardo Mollard pour le Musée du Jeu de Paume
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