independent exhibitions



Meta-impressionism: other exhibitions:

Independent group exhibitions

forerunners and followers

an overview


The 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions from 1874-1886 were independant group expositions. Independant namely of the Salon, the most important yearly exhibition in Paris. Before 1874 there had been some initiatives for independant group exhibitions and even more ideas. On this page you will find an overview. After 1874 the number of independent group exhibitions increased, namely with the exhibitions of Les XX in Brussels (1884-1893) and the exhibitions of the Salon des Indépendants in Paris since 1884.
In this overview I will not include the Salon des Refusés and the requests for them, as many sources on Impressionism do. These Salons were not independant but ordained or facilitated by the authorities. I will neither include the independent exhibitions of Courbet (in 1855 and 1867) and Manet  (1867) alongside the Expositions Universelle. These were individual exhibitions, not group exhibitions and reserved only for wealthy artists. Neither will I mention art-works (that were rejected by the Salon) that were exhibited at art-dealers. In the relation with art-dealers there also is a form of dependancy.


Ideas and initiatives for independent group exhibitions before 1874:
Before 1874 there had been some initiatives for independant group exhibitions and several ideas for organizing them. So the ‘impressionists’ weren’t the first to organize an independant group exhibitions. Here you will find an short overview.

In 1844 the ‘Association des Artistes Peintres d’histoire et de genre, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, Architectes et Dessinateurs’ was founded. In 1860 Pissarro became a member. (R1,p312)

Already in 1847 Dupré had the idea of an independent exhibition after Rousseau was rejected many times by the Salon (R59,p112).

In 1859 there was not a Salon des Refusés as some indicate. There was an exposition of refused at the atelier of Bonvin, with works of Legros, (Courbet?), Ribot, Whistler and Fatin-Latour (R88). Probably this is the same as the ‘Champs de Mars Salon’ founded by Théodule Ribot (1823-91) (iR69).

Already in 1860 the ‘Cercle L’Union artistique‘ was founded; co-founders were Degas and Lepic (R3); this union held lectures, concerts and exhibitions (R3). Francis Petit gave home to their exhibitions in his gallery at the Rue Choiseul (R3,p56). 1870/02/18: Manet exhibited several works with them, at the place Vendôme (R5,p62). In 1876 and 1881 De Nittis exhibited here (R88).

In 1861 the Salon des Arts Unis was founded by Ingres and other conservative artists (R2,p94).

Louis Martinet had founded the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts to promote the credibility of mixed exhibitions (R213,p316).
Between 1862-65 he held a permanent exhibition in his gallery at the Boulevard des Italiens. Corot, Daubigny and Manet were part of this group (R3,p56)
1864/02/04 the first (?) exhibition was held in the gallery of Louis Martinet (R5,p28)
1865/02/03 Manet submited 9 paintings, where of only 2 are accepted (R5,p34)

In June 1862 the Société des Aquafortistes had been founded by Alfred Cadart (and Auguste Delâtre). They published maps with prints of living artists, starting 1862/09/01 in monthly editions of about 5 etchings (iR40/btv1b84700126). From 1863-67 there had been 5 yearly editions combining the monthly editions: 1862/63, 1863/64, 1864/65, 1865/66 + 1866/67 (iR40). There had been 33 members, including Félix Bracquemond, Legros, Pissarro, related painters like Fantin-Latour, Puvis de Chavannes, Whistler and Courbet, Jongkind, Manet and several Barbizon painters like Corot, Daubigny, Huet, Jacques and Millet. In total 329 etchings were published. (R290,p197;R177,p30/1;iR40). Félix Bracquemond, Legros and Seymour Haden are also mentioned as co-founders (R88;R73,p18;R3,p650).

After the Salon des Refusés of 1863 there were not only many requests for another Salon des Réfusés, but also a permission to set up their own shows (R2,p95). Of course is needing a permission not fully independent.

After the rejection of Cézanne, Guillemet and others in 1866 Fortuné Marion threatened with the organisation of a rival exhibition overpowering the young over the old artists (R2,p96+114;R88II,p231).

Bazille mentions in a lettre (1867/05) the idea for a separate exhibition organized by a group of young people. But they only had 2500 franc to organize this private exposition, which wasn’t enough. Several sources mention that the meeting when this was decided took place at Latouche (R3,p673;R88;iR4). Members of this group were Félix Bracquemond, Cézanne, Degas, Guillaumin, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and related painters like Fantin-Latour , Guillemet, Manet. Sources are not uniform if this group included Barbizon painters like Daubigny, Corot, Diaz, Rousseau and Courbet (R2, p17+93; R22,p66; R59,p177). Monneret mentions it was the intention to invite courbet, Diaz, Daubigny and others (R88II,p231). (Note that Rousseau was in that year the chairman of the Salon jury (R59,p183) and Manet and Courbet had their own private exhibitions.)

In another lettre two years later (1869/05) Bazille repeated this idea: ‘each year we will rent a large studio’. He writes that Courbet and Barbizon painters like Corot, Diaz, Daubigny and many others agreed to sent in their works (R2,p93+17).

In 1870 in a pamphlet Auguste Ottin proposed that separate groups of artists (a community of self-governing artists) would mount shows that the government would support with locations and funds (R2,p115;R287,p420). So, still a bit dependent. The idea was rejected by Maurice Richard and Charles Blanc (R287+425).

In 1872 this same Charles Blanc suggested in a rapport the idea of two Salons, one organized by the state and one by the artists. Bracquemond had already proposed this in 1870 and others did the same in 1871 (R2,p104).

1873/05/05 Paul Alexis, an art-critic and friend of the ‘impressionists’, encouraged in an article the formation of artistic syndicates that would organize their own exhibitions. Monet replied (1873/05/07) there were already plans by him and others. Alexis published the letter (1873/05/12) and mentioned the next names of artists involved: ‘impressionists’ like Béliard, Guillaumin, Pissarro, Sisley and para-impressionists like Authier, Numa Coste, Amand Gautier, Jongkind, and Visconti. In an appendix Alexis called them a group of ‘naturalists‘ ‘with the just ambition of painting nature and life in their broadest reality’. And also that ‘They only want to unite interests, not systems’ (R88II,p231). Monet already had mentioned this concrete initiative in a letter dated 1873/04/22 to Pissarro (R2,p17+104; R22I,p104;R88II,p395; R1,p309).
The art-critic Castagnary also pleaded for an independent exhibition without a jury (R3,p135).

Probably in 1873 there was a petition to the Minister of Fine Arts requesting to render the right to vote for the election of the jury to all the artists that exhibited the year before (at the Salon). The petition was signed by Cals, Colin, Monet, Lépine, Ottin, Pissarro, Sisley and also by Barbizon painters like Corot, Daubigny and Ribot. (aR4,p19+20). This was not a petition for an independent group exhibition, but for more influence of artists on the Salon.


Independant exhibitions after 1874:
The 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition was held in 1874. The last and 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition was held in 1886. Here you will find a chronological overview of independent group exhibitions organised after 1874. There was an increasing number of independant group exhibitions held 1884 onwards. It looks like the ‘impressionists’ with their independent group exhibitions had influenced others. But more study on this relationship would be interesting.
Since 1880 the Salon was organised by the ‘Société des Artistes Français‘, so the influence of the members was increased. I wonder if the independant group expositions of the ‘impressionists’ had reinforced this process to more independance.

In August 1875 Meyer, Pissarro and others founded an independant group under the name ‘l’Union’, as alternative for the liquidated ‘Société Anonyme des Artistes…’. BéliardCézanne, Guillaumin and Latouche also were members. The first exhibition opened 1877/02/15 at the Grand Hôtel, Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. It was a complete failure. Shortly before Cézanne, Guillaumin and Pissarro had decided to leave the group.For more information see the page on Alfred Meyer. (R5,p91+100;R1,p362/3;iR35)

L’Union centrale des arts décoratifs:
In 1876 Marie Bracquemond exhibited with the ‘Exposition de l’Union centrale des arts décoratifs’ (R3,p650)

French Society of Landscape painters + Society of Animal painters:
Shortly before the 7th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1882 there had been expositions of the French Society of Landscape painters and the Society of Animal painters. Rouart had also lend the Salons du Panorama for these exhibitions, as he would do for the 7th ‘impressionist’ exposition (R2,p390; R5,p131)

Cercle Artistique de la Seine:
1884/01/03 exhibition of Cercle Artistique de la Seine in Paris; with Renoir (2x); Cassatt, Sisley (R5,p138; R31,p315)

Les XX (1884-93):
Founded in 1883 a group of about 20 artists called Les XX, organised independant group exhibitions yearly from 1884 till 1893 in Brussels. See separate page.

Salon des Indépendants (1884 onwards):
After the Groupe des Artistes Indépendants organised an exhibition in April 1884 a group of artists seperated and formed the Société des Artistes Indépendants organising their first exhibition in December 1884. Since their second exhibition in 1886, the exhibitions were held yearly. See separate page. Signac played an important role in these exhibitions.

Société des Irrégularistes:
May 1884 Renoir had plans for a ‘Société des Irrégularistes’, but it was never founded (R5,p139+141; R31)

Exposition des Arts Incohérents:
1886/10/17: 3rd annual Exposition des Arts Incohérents by an anti-establishment art group / artists with anarchist sympathies exhibiting under a pseudonyme; including Henry Somm (aR2);  Toulouse-Lautrec (R5,p150)

Salon des Aquarellistes Français, 1887 onwards:
Started in 1887. Members of the Société des Aquarellistes Français were several Barbizon painters exhibited like Français, Harpignies and several Para-Impressionists like Béraud, Besnard, Brown, Charles Cazin, Laurens, Lhermitte, Tissot.
Link to catalogue of 1887 (iR19//ia802606) and of 1888 (iR19//ia800700).

Société des Peintres-Graveurs, 1889 onwards:
1889/01/23: first exhibition of the ‘Société des Peintres-Graveurs’ by Durand-Ruel including Félix Bracquemond, Pissarro, Cassatt and Redon (R5,p168;R73,p18;R44,p28). Other exhibitions would follow and Félix Bracquemond was an important force behind them and was the first president (R44,p28;R88). In 1891 they excluded artists who were not French by birth, thus excluding Pissarro and Cassatt who had their own exhibition at Durand-Ruel (R44,p31).

1889: exhibition at Café Volpini:
The ‘Exposition des peintures du groupe Impressionniste et Synthétiste’ was held in the Summer of 1889. The exposition was held in the Café des Arts, which was directed by M. Volpini and located at the Champs -de-Mars.  it was organised by Schuffenecker (and also by Gauguin). See seperate page.

Société des peintres lithographes:
In 1890 Félix Bracquemond was active within the ‘Société des peintres lithographes’ (R88).

1890-1918, Salon de la Société National des Beaux-Arts:
In 1889 a group had split of from the ‘Société des Artistes Français‘ and formed their own Salon de la Société National des Beaux-Arts. In 1918 went back together again. See separate page.

1891-98: Expositions des peintres Impressionnistes et Symbolistes:
From late 1891 till early 1898 there were 15 expositions held of ‘peintres Impressionnistes et Symbolistes’ (=EIS) in the Gallery of Le Barc de Boutteville. See separate page.

1892-97, Salon de la Rose + Croix:
There were 6 yearly exhibitions held from 1892-1897. See separate page.

1894-1914, La Libre Esthétique:
The exhibitions of La Libre Esthétique are seen as a continuation of these of Les XX↑. It was solely founded by Octave Maus, who had the decisive voice. In this sense you can’t speak anymore of an independant group exhibition See separate page.

1894-1900, Salon des Cents:
The Salon des Cents held commercial exhibitions from 1894-1900. It was founded by Léon Deschamps, who had founded in 1889 the Magazine ‘La Plume’ a bi-monthly illustrated Magazine. The Salon des Cents counted (in theory) 100 members, including Desboutin and Puvis de Chavannes. There were also artists that were invited to exhibit. Cordey exhibited at the 3rd exhibition in 1890 that was held at the Galeries de la Plume, 31, Rue Bonaparte, Paris (iR19;iR6). But WikiPedia (wrongly) claims the first exhibition here was held 1894/02/01 (iR3). There was no jury and there were no medals given. The posters made by Mucha, Toulouse-Lautrec and others are quite famous (iR6).
More info: WikiPedia (iR3). See catalogues (iR19); posters and catalogues (iR40). Edition of La Plume 1891 (iR19) and a 1902 publication on the 4th year (iR19).

1900-22, Société Nouvelle de Peintres et de Sculpteurs:
From 1900 till 1922 the Société Nouvelle de Peintres et de Sculpteurs organised yearly independant group exhibitions. See separate page.

1902?-1913+, La Société des Peintures du Paris Moderne:
Univie renders 3 catalogues (R234=iR261). In 1905 it was the 3rd, in 1907 the 4th and in 1913 the 10th exposition, so I assume the 1st was held in 1902. there were 25 à 46 partakers, showing 144 à 318 art-works, so it was a bit larger than the ‘impressionist’ expositions. Jean-François Raffaëlli was an important member. In 1907 he was called ‘membre d’honneur, Fondateurs et Comité’ and in 1913 ‘Président’. This society was united for its love for Paris, exhibiting works that depicted Paris (often with impressionist titles). I couldn’t find additional info in books or the internet. (R88;iR3;iR4)

Salon d’Automne, 1903 onwards:
1903 onwards the Société de Salon d’Automne organised yearly exhibitions, that were much larger than the ‘impressionist’ expositions. See separate page.

1905 onwards, Ensemble d’Intimistes (Peintres d’Intérieurs):
In 1905 the Ensemble d’Intimistes held their 1st exhibition (R238=iR261). See Intimism as art-movement.


My main sources are Moffett (1886=R2), Walther (2013=R3), Denvir (1993=R5), Wildenstein (1996=R22I), Adams (1994=R59), Monneret (1978-81=R88), Boime (R287), Sillevis (1985=R290). See the link for other general References (=Rx) and to the internet references (=iRx).


Recommanded citation: “Meta-Impressionism / other exhitions: Independent exhibitions, forerunners and followers of the ‘impressionist’ expositions an overview. Last modified 2024/02/05.

Note: additional info will follow.


Please be reluctant, when you quote from this webpage, which is under construction.
The information is incomplete and maybe partly incorrect.