4th ‘impressionist’ exposition 1879



Impressionism: a historical reconstruction

The 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition


General info

The 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition:
The fourth impressionist exposition held in 1879 in Paris had 14+2hc=16 partakers showing about 272 art-works (246 catalogue numbers) (see slideshow). There were 7 new-comers: Marie Bracquemond, Cassatt, Forain, Gauguin (hc), Lebourg, Somm and Zandomeneghi. Works of Piette were shown posthumously and outside the catalogue (=hc). 1/3 of all the works were loans. Just 55% were oil paintings. Notably are the 21 fans and the many drawings exhibited. This exhibition was the most successful, attracting 4x more visitors than the start in 1874 and ending with a large profit.

1879, what preceded?
In 1878 there was an Exposition Universelle. Giuseppe de Nittis, who had joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874, exhibited 12 paintings at the Italian section; he would receive a 1st class medal and was appointed Chevalier de Légion d’honneur. None of the other partakers of the ‘impressionist’ expositions exhibited. There had been plans for opening an ‘impressionist’ exposition 1878/06/01. Late March 1878 Pissarro sighs in a letter that Renoir and Cézanne were submitting to the Salon and that he fears a complete disbandment of Monet later. ‘If the best artists slip away, what will become of our artistic union?’ (R2,p245). Shortly after Degas sighs,  there is just ‘a small nugget that is concerned about us’ (R2,p246). Poor sales at a Hôtel Drouot auction and a Durand-Ruel exhibition made them postpone the plans. First (1879/03/10) Monet wanted to renounce taking part in the exposition. 1879/03/14 Sisley wrote he decided to submit to the Salon: ‘It is true that our exhibitions have served to make us known… but I believe we must not isolate ourselves too long.’ (R2,p246) M. and Mme. Cazin, Lhermitte, Destrem and Clairin who were candidates eventually didn’t partake (R2,p247-8), also see Para-Impressionists.

1879, the organisation:
Degas was the motor behind this exposition, with other active roles for Caillebotte and Pissarro (and Cassatt, R2,p264). Cézanne, Renoir and Sisley had withdrawn and tried their luck at the Salon. Monet didn’t show up and he left his hanging over to Caillebotte an would withdraw after this exhibition; he showed 32 paintings, many being older (and noted as such), so this could be called a small retrospective. The catalogue with 246 numbers is not very reliable, many works were send in after the opening. In total there were about 272 art-works exhibited, 21 were not in the catalogue (=hc). 1/3 of all the works were loans. Notably are the 21 fans exhibited by Degas, Forain and Pissarro, they were not shown in one room. The next year Zandomeneghi would exhibit his share. (see slideshow) The expositions was held on the first floor of a newly build house at 28, Avenue de l’Opéra in Paris and it was spread over 5 rooms. It was held from the 10th of April till the 11th of May.
Sources: (R2,p266-271 +p249-252 +258 +260 +314; R3,p218; R5,p115; R90I,p203)

1879, the partakers:
The fourth impressionist exposition had 14 + 2hc = 16 partakers. Works of Piette were shown posthumously and outside the catalogue (=hc), so was a sculpture of Gauguin. Marie Bracquemond, Cassatt, Forain, Gauguin (hc), Lebourg, Somm and Zandomeneghi made their introduction, for Somm it also was the last time. After this exhibition Monet withdraw from the ‘impressionist’ expositions till 1882. Other partakers were Félix Bracquemond, Caillebotte, Cals, Degas, Pissarro, Rouart and Tillot. This was the only year that Morisot was absent. She had given birth 1878/11/14 to her daughter Julie Manet (R93,p11).

1879, the used techniques:
See link for an overview of the used techniques. At this 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition most techniques were used. See also the link to the slideshow.

Most art-works exhibited were oil paintings.Probably 151, about 55,5% of the total amount of 272 art-works. Monet showed the most, probably 32, oil paintings. Caillebotte exhibited 3 decorative panels (no.23-25), but they were made of oil paint, so I count them as oil paitings. No.67 of  Degas probably wasn’t exhibited.

The following 2 partakers exhibited aquarelles: Forain 18x (nos.83-100); Piette exhibited at least 3 and perhaps 12 watercolours. (R2,p260+263+271;R90II,p117). I assume 8. So in total there were 26 aquarelles exhibited, about 9,6% of the total amount of art-works.

The following 4 partakers exhibited pastels: Caillebotte 6x (nos.26-31); Cassatt 3x (nos.53-55); Pissarro 4x (nos.201-204). Note: no.54 of Cassatt maybe was made of a mixed technique of pastel and metallic paint, but because the suggestion isn’t fully sure and the catalogue indicates just a pastel, I will count it as such. The catalogue mentions the following 6 works of Degas were pastels: no. 60 + 68 +70 +71 +73 +74, but no.60 +70 were also done ‘détrempe’ and no.73 also was done with gouache, so I render them as mixed technique. No.65 (détrempe) was exchanged with hc1, no.65 ending up as a pastel. Maybe hc2 also was a pastel. So in total Degas probably exhibited probably 5 pure pastels. So in total there were 18 pastels exhibited, about 6,6% of the total amount of art-works.

The following 2 partakers exhibited engravings:  Félix Bracquemond 4x (no.3-6); Somm 2x (no.228+229). So in total there were 6 engravings exhibited, about 2,2% of the total amount of art-works.

The following 6 partakers exhibited drawings: Marie Bracquemond showed 3 large panels, depicting 1 scene, so I will count it as 1 drawing (no.1); Cals 5x (nos.41-45); Forain 1x (no.107); Lebourg 10x (nos.128-137); Rouart 14x (nos.214-227); Somm maybe 6x (no.230). So in total there were maybe 37 drawings exhibited, about 13,6% of the total amount of art-works.

The following partakers exhibited art-works using mixed techniques: Cassatt exhibited 1 work ‘couleur à détrempe’ (no.56). According to the catalogue Degas exhibited several works (no.58+59+65+67+75) made with the technique ‘détrempe’ (=5). No.65 (détrempe) was exchanged with hc1 a pastel. Probably no.58+59 also were done with pastel. No. 75 was indicated as détrempe à pastel. Probably no.67 wasn’t exhibited, so I won’t count it here (5-1=4). No. 60 + 70 are indicated as pastels, but they are also done with tempera (4+2=6). No.73 of Degas was indicated being a pastel, but it was also made with gouache (6+1=7). Degas exhibited some works (no.63+64) made with the technique ‘essence’, which means the oil is thinned with terpetine / gasoline. No.63 maybe also was made of pastel and gouache, this one I will count as mixed technique and no.64 as oil painting (7+1=8). So in total Degas exhibited 8 art-works in mixed techniques. So in total there were probably 9 art-works exhibited made with mixed techniques, about 3,3% of the total amount of art-works.

Gauguin exhibited 1 sculpture without being in the catalogue (=hc), which is less than 1% of the total amount of art-works.

The following partakers exhibited fans: Degas 5x (no.77-81); Forain 4x (nos.101-104); Pissarro 12x (nos.189-200). So in total there were 21 fans exhibited, about 7,5% of the total amount of art-works.

The following partakers exhibited art-works made with other techniques: Marie Bracquemond showed a plate of earthenware / faience (mate painting) (no.2); Forain exhibited 2 screens (no.105+106); So in total there were 3 art-works exhibited made in other techniques, about 1% of the total amount of art-works.

Several above mentioned works can also be seen as applied art. This is the case for the 21 fans; 3 large panels (no.1; counted as 1 drawing) used for a painting on earthenware / faience made for the Haviland earthenware factory and the plate of earthenware / faience (mate painting) by Marie Bracquemond (no.2); the 2 screens by Forain (no.105+106); the two engraving Calenders (no.228+229) and the 6 drawings that were bookillustrations (no.230) by Somm.


Was this an impressionist exposition?
When we see Impressionism as a painting style, was this exposition in 1879 than an impressionist exposition? No in the sense that Cézanne, Renoir and Sisley had withdrawn, Morisot didn’t exhibit and Monet did, but physically was absent. Yes, in the sense that many impressionist masterpieces were exhibited. Caillebotte has developed from a more Realist style to a full impressionist style, though his portraits stay more subdued in use of colour. Though Cassatt mainly rendered figures in interiors, she used bright and nuanced colours, also depicting the effect of light. Even Degas, who wants to be called a Realist, has brightened his palet and often uses small strokes, notably in his pastels. He too renders the effect of light. It is clear that in his more recent paintings Monet used a more full impressionist painting style, than in the many older paintings he exhibited. Pissarro still used more subdued colours. Lebourg en Rouart depicted many landscapes with partly impressionist influences. Cals clearly stays in a more pre-impressionist style. Forain stays in a more Realist tradition, his use of colours is mostly subdued, also using many blacks and browns. Zandomeneghi rendered Realist figure paintings and pre-impressionist landscapes. Marie Bracquemond still stands in a more Neo-Classical tradition.

1879, the lenders:
Several works were loans: of Marie Bracquemond (1=3 out of 4); of Caillebotte (6 out of 29); of Cals (4 out of 14); of Cassatt (1 out of 12); of Degas (11 out of 25), of Forain (22! out of 26); of Monet (23! out of 32), of Pissarro (22! out of 39). So, in total there had been 92 loans, which is about 1/3 of all the 274 works exhibited.
The most important lenders were: de Bellio (nos.145+146+152+164+165+166 of Monet); Caillebotte (no. 143+144 of Monet; nos.181+182+183+184+185+186+192+204 of Pissarro); Eugène Murer (no.162 of Monet; no.174+175+176+177+187+203 of Pissarro);
Other lenders were Angelo (no.104 of Forain); Baudry (no.138 of Monet); Félix bouchor (no.91 of Forain); Brame (no.72+77 of Degas); A. C. (no.11 of Caillebotte); Mme A. de C. (no.71 of Degas); Chabrier (no.153 of Monet); Georges Charpentier (no.199 of Pissarro); Mme Georges Charpentier (no.98 of Forain); Chéramy (no.86 of Forain); Coquelin (no.99 of Forain); Coquelin Cadet (no.64 of Degas; no.100 of Forain); Alphonse Daudet (no.105+106 of Forain); Doucet (no.87 of Forain); Duez (no.147 of Monet); Durand-Ruel (no.159+160 of Monet); Duret (nos.139+140+141 of Monet); Frat (no.157 of Monet); Gauguin (no.178+179+189 of Pissarro); Camille Groult (no.70 of Degas); Guillemet (no.163 of Monet); Paul Hugot (no.14 of Caillebotte); Mme H. (no.43 of Cals); Mme L. H. (no.78 of Degas); Charles Haviland (no.1 of Marie Bracquemond); Charles Hayem (no.158 of Monet); Hecht (nos.88+92+94+96 of Forain); Léon Hennique (no.107 of Forain); Joris-Karl Huysmans (no.95 of Forain); Jouron (no.93 of Forain); K. (no.12+30 of Caillebotte); Mll L. (no.190+191+195 of Pissarro); Mme H. Lamy (no.89 of Forain); Paul-Eugène Lecadre (no.155 of Monet); Georges Mayer (no.26 of Caillebotte); Mme Pierre-Firmin Martin (no.97+101+102+103 of Forain); Ernest May (no.28 of Caillebotte; no.61+65 of Degas; no.90 of Forain); Henri Michel-Lévy (no.69 of Degas); Henri Rouart (no.38+39 of Cals; no.50 of Cassatt; no.66 of Degas; no.142 of Monet); Mme Henri Rouart (no.42 of Cals; no.79 of Degas); Schlessinger (no.156 of Monet); Mll T. (no.180 of Pissarro). (R90II,p285-294).

1879, reviews:
The critics more often used the term ‘indépendants’ than ‘impressionnistes’, see. Most critics were negative about Caillebotte and positive about Cassatt (R2,p255). Some critics distinguish between the impressionists (Caillebotte, Monet and Pissarro) and the other partakers (R2,p253).
Note: additional info will follow.

1879, the results:
This exhibition was the most successful, attracting 4x more visitors than the start in 1874 and ending with a large profit. The installation has cost 8 – 10.000 franc. Caillebotte had estimated the costs at 30 – 40.000 franc. The total visitors amounted to 15.400. The entrance fee was 0,50 franc which would have given an entrances revenue of 7.700 franc. there was a profit of 439,50 franc for each partaking artist, which would make a total of 7.032 franc.
Sources: R2,p244+260; R3,p218; R5,p115+251;


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. culture.gouv.fr//1879 (extended article on the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition; =iR424)
  3. www.youtube.com//art_101_1879 (video on the 4th’impressionist’ exposition by Mr. Burgher with extended info, beautiful pictures and irritating clips)
  4. magrasku.de/vierte_impressionisten-ausstellung (page in German on the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition; =iR59)
  5. impressionistarts.com/fourth (webpage on the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition; =iR374)
  6. x



Recommanded citation: “Impressionism, a historical reconstruction: The 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1879; general info. Last modified 2024/02/12. https://www.impressionism.nl/4th-impressionist-exposition-1879/.”


Note: More info and pictures will be added.