Impressionism and The Salon
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926)
'Impression Sunrise', 1872 (oil on canvas)
The Salon de Paris
During the 19th century, the Académie des Beaux Arts was the pillar of the French artistic establishment and it held an annual open exhibition at the Salon de Paris. The jury of the Académie saw itself as the protector of the artistic traditions of its day and upheld these by controlling the standard of paintings that were accepted into the Salon exhibitions. Any new work that challenged their standards was rejected and many of the young innovative Impressionist painters of the day frequently found themselves excluded from this mainstream exhibition.
The Salon des Refusées
In 1863, an alternative exhibition called the ‘Salon des Refusées’ was mounted comprising paintings and sculptures rejected by the official Salon. Ironically, ‘Les Refusées’ attracted more attention than the original exhibition and provided the ideal platform for displaying new Impressionist art to the public. However, future ‘Salon des Refusées’ did not become a regular feature and in 1874 some of the rejected artists organized an alternative exhibition in the studio of the Parisian photographer, Nadar. It was this exhibition which unearthed the name that embodied a new approach to painting. Louis Leroy, a journalist and critic for the satirical magazine 'Le Charivari', wrote a scathing review entitled ‘The Exhibition of the Impressionists’. ‘Impressionist’ was meant as a term of ridicule aimed, in particular, at Claude Monet’s painting of the misty morning harbour at Le Havre, 'Impression: Sunrise'. However, the sarcastic title appealed to both the artists and the public and the name stuck. The exhibition at Nadar's became the first of eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886.