Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook

Nine days of impressionism: May 20, 1866, Zola is fired from his newspaper for having defended Manet

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.

- 4 reads.

Nine days of impressionism: May 20, 1866, Zola is fired from his newspaper for having defended Manet

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 keep up to date with historical and cultural news, subscribe free of charge to the Lettre du Figaro Histoire.

Thanked after two months of exercise, that's brutal. Being head of advertising at Hachette was more peaceful for me. But it is not easy to experience one's talent. Thank God he keeps his bibliographic section in the newspaper, because, for now, he is on the index of art criticism. Hung up for a moment, the cap of Monsieur Claude, salon manager of L'Événement! Just a backlash, we laugh from the bosses and other strict bourgeois who vilified him to the director. But he knows it, feels it, wants it, it is only a step, hardly an obstacle, bittersweet, on the path to glory: the dazzling demonstration of his flair. So much excitement, it is an admission of the world, which posterity will praise: Monsieur Claude will have been right, before the others. At twenty-six years old, and with audacity in his blood, with no experience of criticism yet, Zola, his real name, does not have his eyes burned, like the others, by too many years of pictorial conventions. But for a while now he has been frequenting the workshops, the galleries, the rapins' cafés. It's been ten years since he finally talked about art with an old friend named Cézanne.

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

On May 20, 1866, Emile Zola pushed the already crumpled pages of L'Événement onto the blackened wood of his desk laden with books, absent-mindedly running a hand through his silky brown beard. A light smile lights up his pale face. His last article for this column that Villemessant subsequently entrusted to another “salonnier” does not lack panache: “Farewell from an art critic,” he titled it, with a tip of the hat, with The confidence of a stage baron on his last day. “I defended Mr. Manet, as I will defend in my life any frank individuality that is attacked. I will always be on the side of the defeated. There is an obvious struggle between the indomitable temperaments and the crowd. I am for tempers, and I attack the crowd. » This crowd, who does not forgive him for having so roundly crushed the fashionable, historical and boudoir painters, Gérôme, Meissonier, Vernet, Cabanel, Bouguereau and the others! Worse, for having become the defender of unknown painters, and above all for having put at the pinnacle the one at whom everyone laughs, Manet, whose two submissions this year were refused by the Salon: Le Fife and L'Acteur Tragique. Zola even dedicated an entire article to him, on May 7, which had never happened before to the painter from Olympia, who wrote a letter to thank him. He appreciates this elegant heir, blond and distinguished, so frankly determined to follow an irresistible vocation, that of painting what he sees as he sees it; this charming nonchalant disdaining any form of noise and who is surprised to have become, in spite of himself, the flag of a revolt of young painters against their judges. He met him recently, visited in April, thanks to some companions from the Guerbois café, the artist's studio, rue Guyot, in the Monceau plain, where he re-watched Le Déjeuner sur grass, Olympia, Le Fife. His manner and his courage dazzle him. He loves the frankness of his line, his powerful figures, his energetic contrasts, his search for the right tones, which he himself desires so much in his literature.

The scandal brought the two men together. Manet invites Zola to dinner on rue de Saint-Pétersbourg. Following a second visit to the painter's studio, Zola wrote more than an article, a real study which appeared on January 1, 1867 in the Revue du XVIIX siècle under the title: "A new manner in painting. Edouard Manet. » He gives a taste through words of the paintings that the artist will not be able to present at the Universal Exhibition and which he plans to show in the form of a private exhibition on avenue de l'Alma, in June. “If I had been there, I would have asked the amateur to keep a respectful distance; he would then have seen that these spots were alive, that the crowd was talking..." And he praises the art that he wants to help bring about, the one that knows how to put itself at the service of "true beauty: life, life in its a thousand expressions, always changing, always new…” His first youthful books made some noise, but still seemed far from these admirations and these theories. However, in 1867, his sulphurous Thérèse Raquin, heir to Olympia in form and substance, would be completely steeped in it. And Manet will offer him this beautiful dark portrait, the size of a seated man, depicting a pensive Zola, with the thin blue cover of the article in his name clearly visible on a narrow desk.

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

Avatar
Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
Warning! Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.