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Nine days of impressionism: April 1877, the glory of Caillebotte

This article is taken from the Figaro Hors-série Paris 1874, Impressionisme, soleil levant, a special issue published one hundred and fifty years after the first impressionist exhibition commemorated by the Musée d'Orsay which brought together, in a striking face-to-face, a wide selection of works which were then revealed to the public.

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Nine days of impressionism: April 1877, the glory of Caillebotte

This article is taken from the Figaro Hors-série Paris 1874, Impressionisme, soleil levant, a special issue published one hundred and fifty years after the first impressionist exhibition commemorated by the Musée d'Orsay which brought together, in a striking face-to-face, a wide selection of works which were then revealed to the public. To be kept up to date with historical and cultural news, subscribe free of charge to the Lettre du Figaro Histoire.

On the wet sidewalk, his arms loaded with leaves, a peddler shouts: “The Impressionist! » Caillebotte smiled. There is no stopping Rivière, this critic friend of Renoir, who dared to launch the cabbage leaf that they had been talking about since the 1874 exhibition. He wrote everything himself. As illustrations, Gustave made a sketch of one of the works he is exhibiting this year: Le Pont de l'Europe. Degas did the same, and Renoir, and Sisley. L'Impressionniste, art journal... He ultimately thinks that Auguste was right to insist on keeping this name that was stuck to them almost as an insult. Never mind, it will be their flag! There were thirty of them exhibiting in 1874. This year, the group's third exhibition, there are only eighteen. Degas, still enraged, organized a meeting to decide on the fact that we could not exhibit at the Salon and with them at the same time. Very serious according to him! He's holding on to it as hard as iron, and Pissarro agrees with him. Manet, as always, tried the Salon, which refused him Nana, for bad manners. So Nana sits in the window of the merchant Giroux, boulevard des Capucines. We will have associated her too much with the prostitutes in Zola's novels.

Also read: Michel De Jaeghere: “Impressionism, an aesthetic revolution in the shadow of the old masters”

Here he arrives, rue Le Peletier, number 6. Gustave takes a look at the sign shaded with tricolor flags: impressionist perhaps, but also patriotic and republican! He managed to get this location: a large empty apartment on the first floor of a house under repair. The rooms are wide and tall, well lit, perfect for displaying. Since that January dinner at his home, where he brought together Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Manet to talk to them about his desire to mount a third exhibition, his determination has been unwavering. It must be said that last year, at Durand-Ruel, his first, was a triumph for him. His Planeurs de parquet caused a sensation, even though the Salon of 1875, chaired by Cabanel, had refused them. “A very bad point for MM. the official jurors,” confessed Blémont, the poet. It avenged the refusal he had suffered as an affront. Since then, he has undertaken to build up a collection himself, purchasing a few paintings by Monet and Pissarro. Traumatized by the death too young of his brother René, he wrote his will, with the right amount of nerve to ensure the posterity of the works of his friends (he does not think of his own!). “I give the State the paintings that I own; only as I want this donation to be accepted and to be accepted in such a way that these paintings go neither to an attic nor to a provincial museum but to Luxembourg and later to the Louvre. » He even planned a large sum for a fourth impressionist exhibition in 1878, alongside the Universal Exhibition.

This year, Caillebotte presents Rue de Paris, temps de rain, which Zola liked. “Finally, I will name Mr. Caillebotte, a young painter of the greatest courage and who does not shy away from life-size modern subjects. His Rue de Paris in rainy weather shows passers-by (…) who are beautifully truthful. When his talent has softened a little further, Mr. Caillebotte will certainly be one of the boldest in the group. » Caillebotte stops in front of Le Bal du moulin de la Galette by Renoir, L'Etoile by Degas and then La Gare Saint-Lazare by Monet. In all, two hundred and forty-four works stand side by side on the walls of 6 rue Le Peletier. Not everything is for sale. For Caillebotte, who doesn't need money, what really matters is promotion, glory! Hoschedé lent eleven Monets from his collection, four Pissarros and three Sisleys. The publisher Charpentier also lent, and Théodore Duret. Even Manet lent two Monets and a Sisley. Caillebotte responds to a friend's hello with one hand. He sweeps his gaze over the crowding figures. One thing satisfies him, something new, and which for him well compensates for all the jokes in the world: the visitors in vests, top hats and silk dresses are no longer the benevolent passers-by of the first exhibitions. Today it is the elegant beau monde of salons who are curious to see the work of these uncompromising people. This exhibition will have worked well, and even made a small profit. However, the following year, there will be no fourth, due to lack of unity between the members.

Paris 1874. Impressionism, rising sun, Le Figaro Special Edition. €14.90, available on newsstands and on Figaro Store.

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