Note: this page is under construction. 
Do not site from this page for the information is incomplete and maybe incorrect.




How to make a living?


The ‘impressionist’ expositions were (also) held by the artistst to make themselves known and to sell their art-works. It is known that several of them have gone through periods of (severe) poverty. Others were well to do and even could support their colleagues. Others were ‘amateur’ painters in the sense they had a job. What did people need in those days to make a living? What were average wages? What were the revenues from sales of art-works? What expenses did an artist make? On this page we will try to find answers on these questions. The problem is that the information given is very fragmented. Often it is not indicated to what year(s) this information applies. I have no inside in inflation in France in the second half of the 19th century, but I assume that the Franco-Prussian war in 1870/71, the economic resessions in the early 1870s and 1880s had influence on how much a franc was worth and how many francs you needed to make a living. So I will render the fragmented information from my sources and try to draw some conclusions.


Poor ‘impressionists’:
Several partakers of the ‘impressionist’ expositions have gone through periods of (severe) poverty. Who were they? When did they suffer poverty?


Many of the partakers of the ‘impressionist’ expositions that couldn’t make a sufficient income for themselves received an allowance from their parents or others. How high were these allowences?


Amateur painters:
Some partakers of the ‘impressionist’ expositions did paint in their free time next to their jobs.


Well to do ‘impressionists’:
Some ‘impressionists’ were quite well to do and didn’t have to sell their art-works. Some could live on the returns on family capital.


Wages in other professions:
What did people in those days earn in other professions?
Workers at stone quarries earned around 3 1/2 francs a day, which was about three times higher than the average rate for manuel labour (R59,p157). So this makes about 18 francs a week, 72 francs a month and 864 francs a year for a stone quarries worker. And 6 a week, 24 a month and 288 francs a year for a manuel labour.
Around 1859 a young man could live from 125 francs a month (1500 francs a year) (R22, p25).


Revenues from sales:
An artist had to sell his art-works to make a living. What were the revenues they received from their sales?


Expenses as an artist:
As an artist you hade to buy canvases, paint and so on. You also travelled to other interesting places to paint and had to pay for lodgings. Income is revenues from sales minus expenses. So what were these expenses?
In 1863 Monet had to pay 3,75 francs for a full-pension at the Inn ‘Cheval-Blanc’ (R22,p49), This makes 112,50 a month.
1865: about 2/3 of the population paid less than 250 francs a month rent in Paris, the rest paid between 250 and 1500 francs (iR3).