Astruc, Zacharie



Impressionism: partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition

Zacharie Astruc 


aquarellist, sculptor and more

Was Zacharie Astruc an Impressionist?
Zacharie Astruc only exhibited at the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874. He had many friends among the impressionists and related artists and supported them in his art-reviews. But, it also seems that his contacts with ’the impressionists’ after about 1874 were 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 didn’t seem to try and catch the light in his pictures. His watercolours are more sketchy, but his paintings look more finished. He didn’t use juxtaposed brushstrokes. So you can say Astruc hardly used an impressionistic style.


Zacharie Astruc and the Salon and other exhibitions:
Zacharie Astruc debuted the Salon in 1869. After that he exhibited (almost) yearly at the Salon and its successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français (=SdAF). 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 in 1873. 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 (almost) yearly.
Astruc exhibited mostly watercolours and sculptures. In 1882 and 1883 he exhibited his famous Le Marchand de masques, with masks 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 these masks made of plaster and in 1883 of bronze, which is now in the ‘jardin du Luxembourg’ in Paris. Astruc received a honourable mention in 1882 +1883 +1885 +1886 (iR125). At the Exposition Universelle he exhibited in 1889 one watercolour and 2 sculptures; he received a honourable mention; in 1900 he received a 3rd class medal (iR5;iR35;iR125;R231). In 1897 he exhibited at the Salon de la Rose+Croix, but he did so only once. It seems that he did not exhibit much at other exhibitions (iR261;iR1).
Many sources are not accurate about his exhibiting at the Salon. See my account, an thematical overview of his pictures and of his sculptures.

Astruc only joined the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874:
Astruc showed in total 14 works at the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition. These works were listed under the catalogue numbers 1-6. Number 3 ‘cadre de figures contenant’ (list containing images) contained 6 watercolours rendered within one frame. Number 4 ‘cadre de paysage renfermant’ (list containing landscapes) contained 4 works made in Flanders rendered within one frame. (So, you can also say that Astruc showed 6 works.)  Probably all the works he showed were aquarelles. In total probably 6 works were made in Flanders. 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). Many of the works he showed in 1874 are now unknown.
See the links for an account and an impression of the exhibited pictures.
Why did Astruc not exhibit at the other 7 expositions? Is it because his emphasis was laid on sculpture and water-colours? Because he exhibited at the Salon? Still, he did lend a work of Guillaumin to the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1886 (=8IE-1886-74).

Zacharie Astruc as an art-critic and writer:
Astruc was a many sided person. As an art-critic he defended from 1859-1872 partaking impressionists as Monet (R22,CR51+65+89), Legros, Pissarro (R116I,p111+126+329+CR37+157), Renoir and related painters as Courbet, Manet, Whistler, Carolus-Duran, Fatin-Latour in his reviews of the Salon (R3;R88;see also aR11+aR12). In 1859 he published ‘Les quatorze stations du Salon’ (aR12;R88). In 1860 he wrote ‘Le Salon intime’ (aR11). 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).


Zacharie Astruc, a cultural figure:
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).

Zacharie Astruc, to portray and to be portrayed:
Astruc was portrayed by many others like Félix Bracquemond, Legros, and Para-Impressionists like Bazille, and Manet, Fatin-Latour, Whistler and Carolus-Duran. He himself also did portray many others. I already mentioned the writers, composers and painters he exhibited at the Salon in his sculpture ‘Le Marchand de masques‘. In 1870 + 1876 he had already sculptured Barbey d’Aurevilly, in 1874 F. Ponce, in 1880 Barroilhet (a singer), in 1881 Edouard Manet, in 1884 P. Stevens, in 1888 Fabre de l’Aude (a count), probably in 1889 of Baudelaire (a writer) and Coquelin-Cadet (an actor) and in 1889 Peladan (a writer and art-critic).

Zacharie Astruc his art-collection:
1878/04/11+12 there was a sale of Astruc his collection gathered in England, Spain and Flamand at Hôtel Drouot in Paris (R87,p229;aR22). In the catalogue there was a preface of Paul Lefort and Ernest Chesnau. There were 98 old and modern paintings auctioned. Several from old Dutch masters; the English landscapist Bonington (1x) and Constable (3x); The Barbizon painters Corot (1x), Diaz (1x), Millet (1x), Rousseau (1x) and Troyon (3x). There were several works of Fragonard (6x), Géricault (3x), Goya (4x) and Greco (4x). Several works depicted religious or mythological scenes. Most of the works were (quite) small. The collection contained a few large works: David Teniers: Les misères de la guerre; Joshua Reynolds: La coupe de Benjamin, les frères de Joseph arrêtés; Joseph Recco: Une cuisine; Jean Molenaer: Loth et ses filles; Frans Floris: L’Adoration des rois, les évangélistes, triptyque; Honoré Fragonard: Le berger musicien, soir d’automne + La Madeleine en méditation.
There were 25 watercolours and sculptures of Astruc himself auctioned (numbers 99-123; see account). Further more there were 9 sculptures (no.124-132), furniture (no.133-144), tapistry (no.145-147) and ceramic (no.148-153) auctioned.
Does all this imply that Zacharie Astruc was at first quite whealthy and that in 1878 he was in need of money? It also seems that most of his foreign trips were made before 1878. Though Astruc owned several works of pre-impressionists on the whole his taste seemed to be more conservative.
In 1872 Astruc sold a painting of Monet to Durand-Ruel (R22,CR84). In 1877 Astruc bought a quick sketch of Monet made in 1868 (R22I,p70=CR111); it was not part of the 1878 sale. For the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1886 he did lend a work of Guillaumin (=8IE-1886-74).


Zacharie Astruc as an artist:
Astruc had many contacts within the Impressionist and related circles. In 1855 he met Manet and they became (lifelong) friends. There are letters known written in 1865 and 1880 (R213). Manet writes about Astuc ‘you are the only companion I would have wished for’ (1865/08/23?) and ‘I admire your mind and your outstanding talent’ (1880/07/05), but also ’the devil take him’ (1870/01?) (R213,p34+250+52). Astruc attended the soirées of Manet his mother (R213,p12). Astruc would daily take part of meetings 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). Manet writes (1865/09/17) him ‘Your advice and excellent instructions guided me during my stay’ (R213,p36) Sue Roe wrongly suggests Astruc actually went with Manet to Madrid (R4,p106). In 1866 (or 1865) Astruc introduced Monet to Manet (R22I,p62;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 1869 Astruc was present when Monet made a seaview (R22I,p76=CR126). In 1872 Astruc guides Berthe Morisot through Spain (R88;R42,p92;R4,p106).
Walther and Monneret mention that in 1873 Astruc was co-founder 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).
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, these were probably made with gouache. Known is that he used a special technique using large pieces of cotton wool as brushes (R88;R3;iR5). The Salon database nor other sources mention an artistic teacher (iR1).


Short biography of Zacharie Astruc:

  • 1835/02/08: Zacharie Astruc was born in Angers (300km south-west of Paris).
    The date of his birth is not quite unclear. Most sources mention 1835 as year of birth (R2;R3;R9;R75;R79;R88;iR80;iR125). Other sources mention 1833 or 1837 as alternative (R81;iR70). The birth date is rendered as the 8th of February (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;M18).
  • Zacharie Astruc is a nephew of Isabelle Doria, the wife of Count Doria who supported several Impressionists (iR23)
  • 1859: published ‘Les quatorze stations du Salon’ (aR12;R88)
  • 1860: published ‘Le Salon intime, exposition au Boulevard Italien’ (iR40,6pt6k656939s)
  • 1869-70: Astruc lived 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 lived at 15, Rue du Boulevard, Paris (Batignolles) (iR1)
  • 1874-75: Astruc lived at 15, Rue d’Arcel, Paris (Batignolles) (iR1)
  • 1876-93 : Astruc lived 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;aR22).
  • 1883: Astruc published ‘Romancero De l’Escorial; poèmes d’Espagne’ (iR40,bpt6k840742w)
  • 1887/01/01: Zacharie Astruc is mentioned is one of the members of la Société d’histoire et d’archéologie Le Vieux Montmartre (iR40).
  • 1887/11/01: La Revue de l’Aude mentions that a M. Astruc, an artist, had the honor to reorganise the museum of Carcassonne, being a child of the region. “Since long he lives in Paris, with his brother, a sculptor with great talent too, – one hasn’t forgotten the success of his Vendeur de masques-, …” (iR40,bd6t53848993v), so probably this concerned the brother of Zacharie Astruc.
  • 1889: Astruc published ‘Les Dieux en voyage’, probably a play (aR26)
  • 1890: appointed Chevallier de Legion d’Honneur (iR26;iR5;iR125);
    Note: probably not in 1898 as some sources claim (aR10).
  • 1897: Astruc published ‘Le Généralife; sérénades et songes’ (iR40,bpt6k6270411s).
  • May 1897: Astruc lived at at 45, avenue de Wagram (iR40).
  • 1897-98: Astruc lived at 21, Rue Bayen, Paris (iR1)
  • 1899-1904: Astruc lived at 75bis, Avenue de Wagram, Paris (iR1)
  • 1905: Astruc lived rue 8, Théodore-de-Banville, Paris (iR1)
  • 1907/05/24 death in Paris (iR24;iR69;iR80;iR125;R88). Denvir mentions 1907/10/20 as date (R5,p232).
  • 1907/05/29: in L’Express du Midi (Toulouse) Eugène Reynis renders a necrofilia, saying he was several times part of the jury of the Salon, that he was appointed Chevallier de Legion d’Honneur about 15 years ago; that he died at rue 8, Théodore-de-Banville, Paris, being 69 years old; he was the father of Mme Astruc-Doria (iR40,bpt6k53817687)
  • 1908: posthumous ‘Les Alhambras’ was published (iR40,bpt6k54418286)

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), Wilson-Bareau (1991=R213), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3-5), the RKD (=iR24), (=iR40), 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); eclecticlight (aR10=iR35); Parismusées (iR195); Google images (iR10). 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)
Preface of Paul Lefort and Chesneau in the catalogue of the 1878 sale (aR22).
Astruc his art-reviews (aR11+aR12)

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. (online version of Astruc his ‘les 14 stations du Salon’, on the 1859 Salon; =iR40)
  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. and astruc  (exhibition ‘Manet and Astruc, friendship and inspiration’ at the Kunsthalle in Bremen from 2021/10/23 till 2022/02/27; =M58)
  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)
  24. (1887/05/11, Hôtel Drouot sale with 1 work of Astruc, no. 103, Fleurs, aquarelles; =iR40)
  25. (info in Spanish on the exposition in Bremen, see aR21)
  26. (publication of Zacharie Astruc called ‘Les Dieux en voyage; =iR40; also available at
  27. (information on Zacharie Astruc; =iR125)


Recommanded citation: “Partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition: Zacharie Astruc, aquarellist, sculptor and more. Last modified 2024/05/20.”