expositions: numbers and figures

Impressionism, a historical reconstruction

8 ‘impressionist’ expositions

1874 – 1886

Numbers and figures


On this page you will find information about the costs, earnings and profits of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions held from 1874 -1886. The number of visitors varied from 3500 in 1874 to 15.400 in 1879.
In every item the most obvious info is rendered in bold. My main sources are Moffett (R2), Walther (R3) and Denvier (R5). For other general references see.



The rent was an important part of the costs and varied from 2.020 till 6.000 franc. But the total costs could reach a 9.000 franc.

  • 1874: the rent was 2020 franc (R3,p316). Still the total costs mounted till 9.272 franc (R5,p87). Of what costs did the 7.252 franc consist?
    It was the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…’ with the other partaking artists that paid the costs.
  • 1876: the rent was 3.000 franc (R5,p97)
    Though held in the Durand-Ruel galleries the artists had to finance the costs themselves (R3,p192)
  • 1877: no data about the height of the costs
    Caillebotte rented the exposition room (R2,p191; R3,p198); he also paid the many posters (R5,p104)
  • 1879: the installation has cost 8 – 10.000 franc (R5,p251)
    Caillebotte had estimated the costs at 30 – 40.000 franc (R2,p244)
  • 1880: no data about the costs
  • 1881: no data about the costs
  • 1882: the rent was 6.000 franc (R5,p131)
    Henri and his brother Ernest Rouart rented the rooms to exhibiting organizations (R2,p390)
  • 1886: no data about the costs



The earnings consisted of entrance fees from the visitors and them buying the catalogue. The amount of visitors varied extremely from 3.500 in 1874, to 8.000 in 1877, to 15.400 in 1879. In 1886 their were probably less visitors then in 1877. The entrance fee was first 1 franc (1874), but later on (1879 + 1882) 0,5 franc. The catalogue cost 0,5 franc (in 1874).
It also consisted of contributions from the partakers and commissions from the sold works. In 1874 this contribution was 60 franc, in 1876 120 franc. In 1874 the artist had to pay 10% provision for sold works.

  • 1874: At the first day there were 175 visitors and on the last one 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 add together would give a total of 6.595 franc, but Denvier speaks of 10.221 franc. This would mean there were an additional of 3.626 unknown profits. (R2,p106; R5,p87; R3,p136)
  • 1876: fewer visitors attended this exhibition than the first (so let’s say about 3.000). The partaking artists had to pay a contribution of 120 franc. (R2,p158)
  • 1877: Zola mentioned an attendance of 500 visitors a day (R2,p427). Still the total visitors were just 8.000 (R2,p192).
  • 1879: The total visitors amounted to 15.400 (R2,p260; R5,p115; R3,p218). The entrance fee was 0,50 franc which would have given an entrances revenue of 7.700 franc.
  • 1880: There were not much visitors (R5,p119).
  • 1881: The number of visitors was no succes (R5,p125).
  • 1882: the entrance fee was 0,50 franc (R5,p131). During the first week their were 340 à 350 visitors a day. The paintings of Morisot were priced between 500 à 1200 franc. Those of Monet between 2.000 and 2.500 franc. Those of Sisley for 2.000 franc. The opening day was successful, the earnings were 950 franc. (R2,p378)
  • 1886: Alexis reported an average attendance of 450 visitors a day, but in early June Pissarro complained that there were scarcely any visitors at all (R2,p427). Half of the pictures had been sold (R2,p440). Pissarro had offered all his works for sale; half of Degas‘ works were loans (R2,p425).


The main goal for the expositions was publicity in order to sell their works. Did the expositions itself give any financial profits? In 1874 there was a debt of 5.719,50 franc; in 1876 a profit of 2.337 franc; in 1879 a profit of 7.032 franc.

  • 1874: Good sales at the auction of Hôtel Drouot and to art-dealer Durand-Ruel made the Impressionists optimistic about their sells at this exposition (R2,p105/6). Denvier writes about a profit of 949 franc (R5,p87). 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 (R3,p136; in total this would be 5.719,50 franc!). In any way the debts are a reason to liquidation of the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…’ (R3,p136; R5,p85)
  • 1876: the partaking artists received their contribution of 120 franc back, together with a dividend of 3 franc (R2,p158; R5,p97; R3,p193). A total of 2337 franc. Considering the lesser amount of visitors this probably implicates that there were more works sold of which the artist paid commission.
  • 1877: no data. Considering the larger amount of visitors, maybe there was some profit.
  • 1879: there was a profit of 439,50 franc for each partaking artist, which would make a total of 7.032 franc (R2,p260).
  • 1880: no data
  • 1881: no data
  • 1882: Mid-March Caillebotte predicted a debt of 2.000 franc (a person), although the first earnings were successful (R2,p378)
  • 1886: no data



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