Société anonyme

Almost finished

Société anonyme

coopérative d’artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc



On 27 December 1873 the ‘Société anonyme coopérative d’artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc.’ was officially constituted. (Sometimes ‘coopérative’ and ‘graveurs’ is left out.) The members had three goals:

  1. the organization of free exhibitions where each person could show his work without jury or honorary awards
  2. the sale of the exhibited work
  3. the publication (as soon as possible) of a journal exclusively related to the arts

The rules were that each member paid 60 francs a year and 10% provision over the sold works. In exchange each of them could exhibited two works, this probably was analogue to the (varying) Salon principal of submitting two works. But this would have ment there were only 62 works exhibited. Partakers could show more works if they paid more. Almost every partaker showed more than two works, but no one paid more then those 60 francs. At the end of the year it was clear every member had to pay 184,50 francs to cover up the debts. 1874/12/17 it was decided to liquidate the Société anonyme… (R3, p135 + 136; R2,p105; R5,p86).
Walther mentions that Renoir and Pissarro were active as founders of the Société anonyme… (R3,p135) and he cals Guillaumin and Rouart as two of the most important members (R3,p138). Wildenstein mentions that Béliard, Ottin (the sculpture) and Renoir belonged to the supervisory board (R22I,p106).


This idea of an (independent) exhibition apart from the Salon was not new.

Already in 1847 Dupré had the idea of an independent exhibition after Rousseau was rejected many times by the Salon (R59,p112). In 1855 Courbet showed 40 of his own paintings in the ‘Pavillon de Réalisme’ (R59,p142). In 1859 there was not an Salon des Refuses as some indicate, but there was a ‘Champs de Mars Salon’ founded by Théodule Ribot (1823-91) and Legros, Whistler and Fatin-Latour (iR69). After the Salon des Réfusés of 1863 there were many requests for another Salon des Réfusés or for a permission to set up their own shows (R2,p95). After the rejection of Cézanne and others in 1866 Fortuné Marison threatened with the organisation of a rival exhibition overpowering the young over the old artists (R2,p96+114). In 1867 there also was a request for a Salon-des-Réfusés, but this was rejected (R2,p96). In 1867 Courbet again and Manet showed their own paintings in a private pavilion apart from the ‘Exposition Universelle’ (R64,p116).
Bazille mentions in a lettre (1867/05) the idea for a separate exhibition organized by a group of young people. But they only had 2500 Franc to organize this private exposition, which wasn’t enough. Members of this group were Félix Bracquemond, Cézanne, Degas, Guillaumin, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, and related painters like Fatin-Latour , Guillemet, Manet and Pre-Impressionists like Daubigny, Corot, Diaz, Rousseau and Courbet (R2, p17+93; R22,p66; R59,p177). (Note that Rousseau was in that year the chairman of the Salon jury (R59,p183) and Manet and Courbet had their own private exhibitions.) In the same year several art-dealers had their own exhibitions, also showing works of Monet R2,p94.) In another lettre two years later (1869/05) Bazille repeated this idea: ‘each year we will rent a large studio’. He writes that Courbet, Corot, Diaz, Daubigny and many others agreed to sent in their works (R2,p93).
In 1870 in a pamphlet Auguste Ottin proposed that separate groups of artists would mount shows that the government would support (R2,p115). Also in 1872/05 there is a petition addressed to Charles Blanc, directeur des Beaux-Arts,  for a Salon des Réfusés, signed by 26 artists including Cézanne, Fatin-Latour, Jongkind, Manet, Pissarro and Renoir (R2,p104; Raeburn dates the petition 1872/6/18 saying it was done by Charles Blanc and directed to the Minister, see R31, p297). (Other artists that signed were: Béliard (R21,p277). In 1872 this same Charles Blanc suggested in a rapport the idea of two Salons, one organized by the state and one by the artists. Bracquemond had already proposed this in 1870 and others did the same in 1871 (R2,p104). 1873/5/5 Paul Alexis, an art-critic and friend of the Impressionists, encouraged in an article the formation of artistic syndicates that would organize their own exhibitions. Monet replies their are already plans by him and others. Alexis publishes the letter and mentions the next names of artists involved, calling them a group of ‘naturalists’: Authier, Béliard, Numa Coste, Amand Gautier, Guillaumin, Jongkind, Pissarro, Sisley and Visconti. Monet already had mentioned this concrete initiative in a lettre dated 1873/04/22 to Pissarro (R2,p17+104; R22I,p104). The art-critic Castagnary also pleaded for an independent exhibition without a jury (R3,p135).

Members of the  Société anonyme… (R2,p105;R1,p313):

(+1867, 1869, 1870, 1872 and 1873 means they were involved in earlier initiatives)

  1. Béliard (1872; 1873)
  2. Degas (1867) +
  3. Feyen-Perrin, François-Nicolas-Augustin* -/-
  4. Guillaumin (1867; 1873) +
  5. Lepic
  6. Levert
  7. Meyer, Alfred -/-
  8. Mettling, Louis* -/-
  9. Molins, Auguste de -/-
  10. Monet (1867; 1869; 1873) +
  11. Morisot (1867) +
  12. Ottin, Auguste (1870) -/-
  13. Pissarro (1867, 1872; 1873) +
  14. Renoir (1867 + 1872) +
  15. Rouart +
  16. Sisley (1867; 1873) (R2,p105) +

*Note 1: Feyen-Perrin and Mettling did not exhibit at the 1874 exposition, nor at a later ‘impressionist’ exposition. (Maybe Louis Mettling was the teacher of Attendu who only joined the 1874 exposition.)
Note 2: Cézanne and Félix Bracquemond (who later on participated in the ‘impressionist’ expositions) didn’t join the Société anonyme…, but were involved with the initiatives in 1867 + 1872 and respectively 1867 + 1870. Although he participated in 1874, Bracquemond even wasn’t in the list of paying members (R1,p339). But according to Rappard-Boon Bracquemond was among the co-founders (R73,p17).
Note 3: Belloli mentions Cézanne, Boudin, Astruc and Latouche were later invited to participate (R17,p311). It is not clear of he means ‘invited to be a member of the Société Anonyme…’ or ‘invited to join the first ‘impressionist’ exposition organised by the Société Anonyme.
Note 4: Walther mentions Robert as a co-founder of the ‘Société des peintres, sculptures, graveurs’ leaving it vague if this is the same as the ‘Société Anonyme…’ (R3,p692). Wildenstein confirms that Monet succeeded in making Robert to sign in (R22I,p107). Walther also mentions Mulot-Durivage as a member (R3,p684). Walther also mentions Astruc as co-founder (R3,p645).
Note 5: Degas had found the most supporters (R22I,p107). He wanted to avoid the idea it was an exhibition of rejected artists (R1,p313). Degas invited De Nittis, xx (R1,p313). Degas was not able to persuade Tissot and Legros (R1,p313), the latter would join in 1876.
-/-Note 6: not mentioned by Rewald (R1,p313)
Note 7: According to Rewald the following artists did as a member payed contribution but did not exhibit: As earlier mentioned in Note 1: Feyen-Perrin and Mettling, and also: Beaume, Gilbert, Grandhomme, Guyot. (R1,p339).
Note 8: at the liquidation 1874/12/10 of the ‘Société Anonyme…’ the following members / artists were present, called together by Renoir: Béliard, Bureau, Cals, Colin, Degas, Latouche, de Molins, Monet, Auguste and  Leon Ottin, Robert, Rouart and Sisley. Bureau, Renoir and Sisley were in the liquidation committee. (R1,p336) Note: it seems that Guillaumin, Lepic, Levert, Meyer, Morisot and Pissarro were absent. And also other partakers of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition: Astruc, Attendu, Boudin, Félix Bracquemond, Brandon, Cézanne, Debras, Lépine, comtesse de Luchaire, Mulot-Durivage and de Nittis.
+Note 9: Belloli mentions there were 3 members in a ‘Committe of Surveillance’, including Renoir. 7 members were ‘provisional Administrators’, including Monet, Pissarro and Rouart. Other members of the initial group were: Degas, Guillaumin, Morisot and Sisley. Others were later invited to join: Astruc, Boudin, Cézanne and Latouche. (R17,p331)
Note 10: According to Denvir Béliard was part of the founding committee and helped Renoir with the financial administration of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition (R8,p208).



The following related artists didn’t join:

Several artists didn’t join the ‘Société Anonyme…’.  Many of them ‘… felt the battle for recognition should be fought in the Salon’ and they didn’t want to exhibit together with secondary and tertiary figures (R2,p105+22). Still most of them were involved in earlier initiatives for an (independent) exhibition apart from the Salon (see the years of the earlier initiatives behind their names).

  • Autier (1873)
  • Bazille (1867; 1869; died in 1870)
  • Coste, Nume (1873)
  • Fatin-Latour (1867, 1872)
  • Gautier, Amand (1873)
  • Guillemet, Antoine (1867)
    (He was congratulated by Corot for his choice not to be involved in this gang and received a second medal at the Salon, R22I,p107)
  • Lançon, Auguste
    (Who rejected the invitation of Monet, R22I,p107, and who exhibited at the Salon of 1874, iR1)
  • La Rochenoire, Charles-Julien de
    (Who rejected the invitation of Monet, R22I,p107, and who exhibited at the Salon of 1874, iR1)
  • Lévy, Henri-Michel
    (Invited by Monet who had met him in Zaandam, R22I,p107)
  • Manet (1867, 1872)
  • Marison, Fortuné (1866)
  • Rios, Ricardo de los (R2,p116; invited by Monet, R22I,p107)
  • Solari
    (A sculpture and friend of Zola; rejected the invitation of Monet, R22Ip107)
  • Tissot
  • Visconti (1873)


The following Pre-Impressionists didn’t join:

But they were involved in earlier requests for an (independent) exhibition apart from the Salon.

  • Corot (1867; 1869)
  • Courbet (1867; 1869; was in exile in Switzerland)
  • Daubigny (1867; 1869)
  • Diaz (1867; 1869)
  • Jongkind (1872; 1873)
  • Rousseau (1867)