Astruc, Zacharie

almost finished

Zacharie Astruc (1835-1907)



Was Zacharie Astruc an Impressionist?

You can say Astruc was part of the ‘impressionist’ art movement. He had many friends among the impressionists and supported them in his art reviews. He exhibited at the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874. But why didn’t he exhibit at the other 7 expositions? Is it because his emphasis was laid on sculpture and water-colours? Because he exhibited at the Salon? It also seems that his contacts with the impressionists after about 1874 are less close. So partly he belonged to the ‘impressionist’ art movement, but clearly not in the center of the movement.
Did Astruc paint in an impressionistic style? Some of his works look quite bright, but many of his works have  a lot of greyish and brownish accents. He doesn’t seem to try and catch the light in his pictures. His water-colours are more sketchy, but his paintings look more finished. He doesn’t use juxtaposed brushstrokes. So you can say Astruc hardly used an impressionistic style.


Zacharie Astruc and the Salon:

Astruc debuted the Salon in 1869. After that he exhibited yearly (until 1905) except in 1894 + 95. Since 1891 he exhibited hors concours. Note: In 1869 Astruc exhibited 10 and in 1870 16 works. In 1872 just one. Astruc did not exhibit in 1873. Was he rejected? Still he did not exhibit at the Salon des Refusés. It seems there was a reclining succes at the Salon. Did this motivate him to join the Impressionists in 1874? Still in 1874 (partly parallel) he also exhibited 3 works at the Salon and after this continued to exhibit yearly.
Mostly Astruc exhibited watercolours and sculptures. In 1882 and 1883 he exhibited his famous ‘Le marchand de masques‘, with masques of B. D’Aurevilly, Balzac, De Banville, Berlioz, Carpeaux, Corot, Delacroix, Dumas Faure, Gambetta, Gounod, Hugo.  (All famous writers, composers and painters). In 1882 he exhibited the sculptures of plaster and in 1883 of bronze, which is now in the ‘jardin du Luxembourg’ in Paris. In 1889 and 1900 Astruc was awarded at the ‘Exposition Universelle’. Most sources are not accurate about his exhibiting at the Salon. See my account. Also see pictures.

Astruc only joined the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874:

Astruc showed in total 14 works at the first ‘impressionist’ exposition. He was listed under the catalogue numbers 1-6. Number 3 contained 6  ‘cadre de figures contenant’ (list containing images) , these were all aquarelles / watercolours. Number 4 contained four ‘cadre de paysage renfermant’ (list containing landscapes).  Number 1 and 2 also were aquarelles so he showed in total 8 aquarelles. Several works were made in Flanders. Most of the works he showed in 1874 are now unknown. For an account (translation and analyses) of his works in the catalogue see link. Also see pictures. De Lora reviewed: ‘a brilliant collection of watercolours, lively and bright with colour and light’ D’Hervilly calls him an artist of ‘great value’ (R87,p229).


Zacharie Astruc as an artist:

Astruc was a many sided person. As an art-critic he defended from 1859-1872 partaking impressionists as Monet, Legros, Renoir and related painters as Courbet, Manet, Whistler, Carolus-Duran, Fatin-Latour in his reviews of the Salon (R3;R88;see also aR11+aR12). As a journalist he worked for several newspapers and magazines (R9;R3;iR5). As a writer he published several books (aR2) and wrote poems and songs (R3;R88). In 1863 he made a song titled ‘Lola de Valence’, it was published with a litho of the painting of Manet from 1862 (R5,p24). In 1865 Astruc made a poem about Manet’s Olympia (R8,p87;R88). Astruc was an important figure in the cultural life of Paris (iR3) and was very interested in Spain and Japonism (iR3;iR5). In 1866 together with Bracquemond, Fatin-Latour, Burty and others he formed the secret ‘Société du Jing-lar’, a club devoted to the study and promotion of Japanese culture (iR70/Phylis Floyd).
Astruc had many contacts within the Impressionist circles. In 1855 he meets Manet and they become friends. Afterwards Astruc daily takes part of the Batignolles-group in café ‘Guerbois‘ (R1,p197;R3;R8,p20;R88). In October 1858 meets Whistler at the café Molière. In 1865 he helped Manet in the preparation for his trip to Spain (R1,p125;iR3;R5,p35;R88). Sue Roe suggests Astruc went with Manet to Madrid and later did the same with Morisot (R4,p106). In 1865 (or 1866) Astruc introduced Monet to Manet (R5,p37;R88;R1,p123+148). Being in Honfleur early 1866, Monet asked Astruc to send him some of his pictures (R22I,p63). In 1867 Astruc helped writing the preface of the catalogue of the solo exhibition of Manet (R5,p45;R8,p25+129). In August 1867 Astruc was witness of the birth of Jean Monet (R22I,p68). In 1872 Astruc guides Berthe Morisot through Spain (R88;R4,p106). Walther and Monneret mention that in 1873 Astruc was cofounder of the ‘Société anonyme…‘ (R3;R88), this is not confirmed by Moffett or Rewald. Belloli explicitly mentions that Astruc was later invited to participate (R17,p331). In 1877 Astruc buys a quick sketch of Monet made in 1868 (R22I,p70/CR111). Astruc is portrayed by Félix Bracquemond, Bazille, Manet, Fatin-Latour and Carolus-Duran.
As an artist Astruc mainly was a watercolourist and a sculptor (since about 1870; aR10). Many of his watercolours are so thick with colours that they almost look like oil paintings, sometimes it is not discernable. Did he mostly use gouache? Known is that he uses a special technique using large pieces of cotton wool as brushes (R88;R3;iR5). The Salon database nor other sources do not mention an artistic teacher (iR1).


Short biography of Zacharie Astruc:

  • 1835/02/08: Astruc was born in Angers (300km south-west of Paris).
    The date of his birth is not quite clear. Most sources mention 1835 as year of birth (R2;R3;R9;R75;R79;R88;iR80). Other sources mention 1833 or 1837 as alternative (R81;iR70). The birth date is rendered as the 8th of Februar (R75;R81). Bénézit mentions 1835/02/20 (iR69). Wikipedia and BNF mention 1833/02/23 (iR3;iR4;iR26).
  • The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers has many works of Astruc (aR4).
  • Zacharie Astruc is a nephew of Isabelle Doria, the wife of Count Doria who supported several Impressionists (iR23)
  • 1859: publishes ‘Les quatorze stations du Salon’ (aR21;R88)
  • 1869-70: Astruc lives at 91, Rue Lemercier, Paris (Batignolles) (iR1)
    As far as I can see Astruc would live the rest of his live in the 17th Arrondissement (iR9).
  • 1872: Astruc lives at 15, Rue du Boulevard, Paris (Batignolles) (iR1)
  • 1874-75: Astruc lives at 15, Rue d’Arcel, Paris (Batignolles) (iR1)
  • 1876-93 : Astruc lives at 233, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Paris (iR1)
  • 1878/04/11-12: Sale of his collection gathered in England, Spain and Flamand (R87,p229).
  • 1890: appointed Chevallier de Legion d’Honneur (iR26).
  • 1897-98: Astruc lives at 21, Rue Bayen, Paris (iR1)
  • 1899-1900 (?): Astruc lives at 75bis, Avenue de Wagram, Paris (iR1)
  • 1890: receives the Légion d’Honneur (iR5); or in 1898 (aR10).
  • 1907/05/24 death in Paris (iR24;iR69;iR80;R88). Denvir mentions 1907/10/20 as date (R5,p232).

Sources on Zacharie Astruc:

In many books on Impressionism Astruc is not mentioned at all (R10;R14;R15;R16;R21;R86;R94;R95;R102). In several books Astruc is just (shortly) mentioned and a single picture is rendered. Rewald mentions him several times, but only as a side figure, as art-critic defending Manet and others, as friend of Manet, as visitor of Café Guerbois, as model for his friends, as partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition, but not as an independent artist. So do Roe (R4) and Denvir (R5+R8).
My main sources are aR2 (which mostly is based on the work of Flescher=aR1), Rewald (1973 =R1), Moffett (1986=R2), Walther (2013=R3,p645), Roe (2006=R4), Denvir (1993=R5;1992=R8), Schurr & Cabanne (2008=R9,p40/1), Wildenstein (1996=R22), Monneret (1978-81=R88I,p18/19), Pissarro&Durand-Ruel (2005=R116I,p111+126+CRno.37+157), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3-5), the RKD (=iR24), Bénézit (=iR69) My main sources for the pictures are: the-athenaeum (4x;iR2), Wikimedia (iR6), Google-images (iR10), mutualart (iR11), artnet (iR13), arcadja (6x;iR18), Joconde (7x;iR23), ibiblio (iR27) and eclecticlight (aR10=iR35). See for other  general references (=R) and references to internet sites (iR). For explanation of the subscription of the paintings see.
For further reading see:
Bénézit (1976,Vol.1,p301=R75; 1999,vol.1,p515=R76), Thieme&Becker (1907-50; Vol.2,p208=R79) and Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (1992-2019;Vol.1,p500=R81). (iR24)
Sharon Flescher, Zacharie Astruc: Critic, Artist and Japoniste (1833–1907) (Garland Publishing: New York, 1978) (=aR1)


Additional references (aR):

  1. Sharon Flescher, Zacharie Astruc: Critic, Artist and Japoniste (1833–1907) (Garland Publishing: New York, 1978) (R2;iR26)
  2. ; (link to Astruc’s books on this website; they are still for sale, but only in French; =iR26)
  3. (auction catalogue of 1878 of his collection (no.1-98) and his own watercolours and sculptures (no.99-123) and other sculptures and applied art (124-153)
  4. (28 works)
  5. (a page on ‘le marchand de masques’)
  6. (a short biography on a site about Whistler)
  7. ; (french article)
  8. /aprende/enciclopedia/voz/astruc-zacharie/1107da7d-b633-4df9-bcbb-0b265a77504d ; (Spanish article)
  9. ; (short introduction film voyage en Espagne)
  10. =iR35 (article on Astruc and others)
  11. (‘Le Salon intime’ critic by Astruc on the 1860 Salon; review)
  12. (‘les 14 stations du Salon’, critic by Astruc on the 1859 Salon)
  13. (short biography on Astruc)
  14. (genealogic info on Astruc =iR80)
  15. (info on where the book of Fletcher is found in libraries)
  16. (all the books written by Astruc)
  17. (short filming of ‘le marchand de masques’ in the Jardin de Luxembourg)
  18. (photo’s and info on ‘le marchand de masques’)
  19. (=Joconde=iR23; several works of Astruc in French musea)
  20. (overview of images and text of Astruc; =iR26)
  21. (online version of Astruc his ’14 Stations du Salon de 1859; =iR40)
  22. (catalogue of the Hôtel Drouot auction of 1878/04/11 of works owned and made by Astruc, with an intro by Paul Lefort and Chesneau; =iR40)
  23. (overview of works / documents related to Astruc; =iR40)