1874 expo: info


Impressionism: a historical reconstruction

The 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition


General info



On this page you will find information on the organisation, the partakers, the used techniques, the lenders, the reviews and the results of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition held in 1874 in Paris. This exposition was organised by the ‘Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc. It was called the première exposition 1874‘. At this exposition 31 partakers showed at least 225 art-works, which is much more than the 165 numbers in the catalogue. (See slide show.) Félix Bracquemond showed far out the most, 33, works, including 32 etchings. None, of the partakers did use a fully mature impressionist painting style, maybe Sunset at Ivry↑ of Guillaumin (no.64) was the most impressionist painting exhibited. Several art-works, namely of Alfred Meyer and Auguste Ottin, even had Néo-Classical themes and Ingres was honoured in 3 art-works↓ (no.24-12 +25-5 +126). About 3500 people visited the exposition. The reviews were quite positive and it was Castagnary in a positive review who explicitly called them “impressionist”, explicitly referring to Impression, soleil levant of Monet and not Leroy as the ever repeated myth tells us.


1874: the organisation:
The first ‘impressionist’ exposition was organised by Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Renoir and presented under the auspices of the ‘Société anonyme d’artistes…’ , that was founded 1873/12/27 (R2,p93). Denvier writes Renoir did most of the hanging (R5,p86). The works were hung in a mixed way determined by lot (R2,p105) or according to Denvier in alphabetical order (R5,p86). Père Martin was the business leader of the exposition (R177,p27+39).


1874: the partakers:
 There were 30 + 1hc = 31 partakers showing about 225 art-works of which only half were oil paintings, see. Comtesse de Luchaire (a pseudonyme) was exhibiting outside the catalogue (=hors catalogue =hc) (R2,p123). All the following exhibitions there would be less than 20 partakers. Félix Bracquemond exhibited far out the most works (33 of which 32 etchings). The partakers showed just an average of 7 works each. The total amount of the exhibited works will stay uncertain, because the catalogue was not very accurate (R3,p136). Pissarro will be the only artist who will join all 8 expositions. The majority of the participants had earned reputations at the Salon, something Degas pleaded for and Pissarro was opposed to (R2,p105). (Some sources state that these artists were invited, to show to the art-critics that this exposition was not a new Salon-des-Refusés (iR4;R83,p38). I wonder if this statement is substantiated with original sources.)
15 of the partakers would never exhibit again at the ‘impressionists’ expositions, this is 26% of all the partakers, see overview: Astruc, Attendu, Boudin, Brandon, Colin, Debras, Latouche, Lépine, Comtesse de Luchaire, Meyer, de Molins, Mulot-Durivage, de Nittis, Auguste Ottin and Robert. The following 5 partakers would join 1 more time: Béliard, Bureau, Cézanne, Lépic and Léon Ottin. The other 11 partakers would exhibit more often at the following expositions: Félix Bracquemond (3x), Levert, Renoir + Sisley (4x), Cals + Monet (5x), Guillaumin (6x), Degas, Morisot + Rouart (7x), Pissarro (8x).

1874: the used techniques:
Probably 111 oil paintings were exhibited, just about 49% of the total amount of 225 art-works.
Notable are the many engravings exhibited, namely by Félix Bracquemond: 32x (nos.24-28). Lepic showed 3 etchings (no.78-80). Léon Ottin showed 1 lithogrape (no.133). Rouart showed 2 etchings (no.157+158). So in total there were probably 38 engravings exhibited, about 17% of the total amount of 224 art-works.
Typical for this exhibition also were the 10 sculptures of Auguste Ottin (nos.119-128), about 4% of the total amount of art-works.
The following partakers exhibited aquarelles: Astruc, at least 8 of which at least 2 were gouaches (no.1-3); Attendu 3x (nos.10-12); Boudin 4x (no.22); Brandon at least 2, I assume 6 (no.31); Lepic 4x (nos. 74-77); Morisot 3x (nos.110-112); Rouart 3x (No.154-156); Robert showed at least 2 aquarelles (no.160). So in total there were probably 33 aquarelles exhibited, about 15% of the total amount of art-works.
The following partakers exhibited pastels: Boudin 6x (no.20+21); Degas 1x (no.61); Monet 7x (nos.99-102); Morisot 3x (no.108+109+hc); Renoir 1x (no.146). So in total there were probably 18 pastels exhibited, about 8% of the total amount of art-works.
The following partakers exhibited drawings: Bracquemond 1x (no.23); Brandon 2x (no.30+32); Debras 1x (no.52); Meyer 1x (no.91bis). The catalogue indicates that Degas showed 4 drawings, but probably he used mixed techniques↓. So in total there were probably 5 drawings exhibited, about 2% of the total amount of art-works.
The following partakers exhibited art-works using mixed techniques: Degas his drawings probably were made of mixed techniques, at least no.62, maybe also no.58 +59 +60. So in total there were maybe 4 art-works exhibited made with mixed techniques, about 2% of the total amount of art-works.
Some partakers used other techniques: Alfred Meyer showed 5 enamel art-works (nos.87-91). Léon Ottin exhibited a curtain made for a theater (no.132). So in total there were  6 art-works exhibited made with mixed techniques, about 3% of the total amount of art-works.

Was this an impressionist exposition?
The 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition was not an impressionist exposition in the sense that none of the art-works was made in a fully impressionist painting style. Many of the colours used were quite sub-dued and many brownish, greyish and blackish hues were used. Maybe Guillaumin’s Sunset at Ivry↑ (no.20) was the most impressionist painting exhibited. The sky, in which he used slightly unnatural colours (the greens), vibrates in a beautiful way. Still, the shadows are made of dark brown and not purple hues.

1874: the lenders:
All 3 works of Lépine were loans. Most works of Degas were loans (7 out of 10). Other loans were of Attendu (3 out of 7), Sisley (2 out of 6), Béliard (1 out of 4), Cals (3 out of 7), Cézanne (1 out of 3), Guillaumin (1 out of 3), Morisot (1 out of 10), Léon Ottin (1 out of 7), Rouart (1 out of 11). So, in total there had been 24 loans, which is about 11% of all the works exhibited.
Brandon did lent 3 works of Degas (no.55+57+61). Rouart did lent 1 work of Cals (no.38) and 1 of Degas (no.56). Durand-Ruel did lent 2 works of Sisley (no.161+162). Loans of other art-collectors were: Fauré did lent 2 works of Degas (no.54+63). Dr. Gachet did lent 1 work of Cézanne (no.43) and 1 work of Guillaumin (no.66). Other lenders were: Brullé lending 1 work of Lépine; Manet did lent 1 work of Morisot (no.106). Mulbacher did lent 1 work of Degas (no.60). Sporck did lent 1 work of Lépine. There also were anonymous lenders: D. lending 1 work of Béliard (no.13); J. D. lending 2 works of Attendu (no.11+12) and 1 of Rouart (no.150);  H. lending 1 work of Cals (no.39); M. lending 1 work of Cals (no.37) and 1 of Lépine (no.83); T. N. lending 1 work of Léon Ottin (no.134); A. Q. lending 1 work of Attendu (no.7);


1874: the reviews of Leroy and Castagnary:
Leroy (1874/04/25) his review in ‘Charivari’ was called “L’exposition des impressionnistes” (R2,p490;R90I,p25/6;R87,p259-261;R5,p88;R7,p26/27). In his negative review Leroy performs a fabricated dialogue with a M. Joseph Vincent. Many emphasize that he was the first to use the term ‘impressionism’ and thus was responsible for the naming of the Impressionists (R3;R87), you will find this opinion repeated at WikiPedia (iR3) and WikiSource (iR416). Rewald even rendered most of this review in the chapter about ’the origin of the word “impressionism” (R1,p318-324). But Leroy only did use the term ‘impressionnistes’ in the title, not once in his article. Neither did he give special attention to Impression, soleil levant of Monet, as many suggest.
Instead, it was Castagnary, in a positive review, who explicitly gave the partakers the name ‘impressionists’ and who connected this term with the painting ‘impression, soleil levant’ of Monet (R87,p265; 1874/04/29 in Le Siècle: “Exposition du boulevard des Capucines: Les Impressionnistes” (R2,p490;R90I,p15-17;R87,p264/5). He pleads to use the term ‘impressionists‘, because these painters ‘don’t render a landscape, but the sensation produced by that landscape’ and ‘in the catalogue soleil levant of M. Monet is not called landscape but impression.’ (R87,p265;R90I,p17). So Castagnary is the explicit origin of the term ‘impressionism’ and not Leroy as many state. This is affirmed by Philip Burty who reviewed 1874/05/30: “The Siècle, having on its staff M. Castagnary, an intimate friend of Courbet and formerly an ardent defender of realism, christened the independent young artists, happily enough, “The Impressionists”.” (R90I,p9). Still, several writers suggest the article of Castagnary also was a negative one (R177,p39), confirming the myth that ‘impressionistes’ was only used as a scornfull name.
This is one of the many myths around Impressionism, presenting the Impressionists as victims of the hostile established art-world.


1874: other reviews:
Most art-critics didn’t use the term ‘impressionists’, see. There were more than 50 reviews. The majority was positive, especially about the renewing art (R2,p106). Still, many sources suggest that most reviews were negative (aR5). Many conservative papers and magazines didn’t pay attention (R3,p140). Some reviews indeed were negative, like the above mentioned Leroy. Claretie reviewed ‘MM. Monet …, Pissaro (sic), Mll. Morizot (sic), etc. seem to declare war on beauty’ (R264,p260). The absent Manet was called by Chesneau ’the first in line’ (R2,p109).


1874, the results:
At the first day there were 175 visitors and on the last day 54. In total there were around 3.500 visitors paying 1 franc entrance fee. Let’s assume that half of them paid the catalogue of 0,50 franc, that would have given 3.500 + 875 = 4375 franc. The partaking artists had to pay a contribution of 60 franc. That would make 1.860 franc. They also had to pay 10% provision for sold works, which provided 360 franc. All these earnings added together would give a total of 6.595 franc, but Denvir speaks of 10.221 franc. This would mean there were an additional of 3.626 unknown profits. The rent was 2020 franc. Still the total costs mounted till 9.272 franc. It is not clear of what costs the other 7.252 franc did consist. Denvir writes about a profit of 949 franc. But Walther writes about a small profit at first sight, but a debt per partaker of 184,50 franc at the end of the year (in total this would be 5.719,50 franc!). It was the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…’ with the other partaking artists that paid the costs. This ended in liquidating the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…’, see.
Sources: Moffett (1986=R2,p106); Denvir (1993=R5,p87+85); Walther (2013=R3,p136).



General sources:
My main sources are Moffett (1986=R2=aR1), Berson (1996=R90), Dayez (1974=R87=aR2), Rewald (1973=R1), Walther (2013=R3), Roe (2006=R4), Denvir (1993=R5), Monneret (1978-81=R88), Adler (1998=R89). See the link for other general References (=Rx) and to the internet references (=iRx). See here below for additional references (=aRx). See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.


Additional references (=aRx):

  1. archive.org//t7cr6bg0d (Online version of Moffett: The New Painting, 1986 =R2=iR19)
  2. libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/78484 (Online version of Centenaire de l’Impressionnisme, 1974 (=R87=iR271=iR271)
  3. thoughtco.com/2578283 (article on Monet’s Impression, soleil levant; =iR417)
  4. en.WikiSource.org (text of the review of Leroy; =iR416).
  5. impressionistsarts.com//first (extended article on the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition; =iR374)
  6. x



Recommanded citation: “Impressionism, a historical reconstruction: The 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874; general info. Last modified 2023/09/25. https://www.impressionism.nl/1874-expo-info/.”


Note: More info will be added.