Salon des Refusés

Meta-Impressionism: Salons

Salon des Refusés


The Salon des Refusés held in 1863 is often seen as the starting point of the ‘impressionist’ art-movement. Denvir starts his book with this Salon, calling the chapter ‘1863, art in rebellion’, writing: ” ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ by Manet takes by far the most important place here.” (R5,p24). But there is not much connection to the ‘impressionist’ expositions. Typical for the ‘impressionist’ expositions was that they were group exhibitions  independent of the Salon. The Salon des Refuses of 1863 was ordained by the emperor Napoleon III, so not quite independent. Of the 410 partakers only 9 later would join the ‘impressionist’ expositions. And ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ is not an impressionist painting.


In 1859 there was not an 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).


The Salon des Refusés of 1863:
In 1863 about 20% of the artists were rejected for the Salon (iR1). Count Nieuwerkerke, Superintendent of Fine Arts and Director General of Museums, had been the president of the Jury (R1,p80;R287,p413;R3,p694). Many complained and the emperor Napoleon III ordained that  ’the refused works should be exhibited in another part of the Palais de l’Industrie.’ (R5,p24/5;R3,p60;R1,p80) This exhibition called the ‘Salon des Refusés’ opened the 15th of May. The catalogue mentions 410 partakers exhibiting 781 works, but there were many works exhibited outside the catalogue (=hc) (R5,p25;R3,p82). Monneret claims it were 1200 artists (R88). Not all, that were rejected exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. Monneret mentions that more than 1000 withdrew there works (R88). One of them was Renoir (R31,p179+295). At the Salon that year 1622 artists exhibited 2980 works (iR1).
This rejection seems to be exaggerated by several sources. Rewald and Monneret write that 3000 of the 5000 paintings were rejected (of 3000 artists and 1000 sculptures) (R1,p79/80;R88; note this would mean 2000 works were accepted, while the Salon catalogue mentions 2980 works). Walther writes about 4000 of the 5000 works were rejected (R3,p60; which would mean that only 1000 were accepted). Elswhere he mentions that 1200 of  the about 2300 rejected artists joined the Salon des Refusés (R3,p694). Boine also mentions a 4000 rejected works (being 70% of the whole) and writes that over 600 works were withdrawn (R287,p413+416; note this would mean that only 1714 works were accepted, while the catalogue of the Salon of 1863 mentions 2980 works). Sue Roe writes 2800 paintings were rejected (R4,p26; the other numbers she mentions don’t seem to be correct either). Also Zola in his novel ‘l’Oeuvre’ refers in the whole of chapter 5 to this Salon des Refusés (R292).
Of the 410 partakers only 9 later would join the ‘impressionist’ expositions: Félix Bracquemond, Cals, Legros, Léon Ottin, Pissarro, Tillot and outside the catalogue: Cézanne, Colin and Guillaumin. Except Cézanne, Guillaumin and Tillot the others would regularly exhibit (before and) afterwards at the Salon. So, in this sence there is not much link with the ‘impressionist’ expositions that started 11 years later in 1874.
Sources on Impressionism give ample attention to ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ of Manet that was exhibited under the title ‘Le bain’ (R5,p27;R3,p62-64;R4,p28/9;R1,p85/86). This is strange, because Manet never joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions and even opposed to them. And also because ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ is not painted in an impressionist style. Manet painted it in his studio. He doesn’t render the effect of sunlight. The colours are quite subdued and Manet used many browns and blacks. In this sense the work exhibited by Colin ‘Joueurs de Pelote’ is much more an impressionist work. ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ caused a great commotion and an outrageous reaction among the audience, most of all because it dealt with contemporary prostitution (R215;R3,p62-64;R4,p28;R1,p85). This is a confronting form of Realism, like Forain also executed (see 5IE-1880-47), but not Impressionism.
Boine (R287) claims this Salon was ‘privately organised’ (p425), that a common feature was that the works were ‘sketchy’ (p411), that they formed a ‘school’ of ‘Realists and Naturalists’, being the victim of ‘systhematic exclusion’, opposed to the ‘classic and romantic tendencies’ at the Salon (p414),  I like to emphasize that this Salon des Refusés was ordained by the emperor and that many of the ones refused, exhibited before and afterwards at the Salon and several also were rewarded. I don’t subscribe his idea that the Salon des Refusés were the ‘most decisive institutional development in the progress of modern art’ and that ‘it was the single most invigorating stimulus to the formation of the Impressionist group shows, and subsequently of the Salon des Indépendants of 1884′ (R287,p411). That several art-critics make this connection (R287,p423) doesn’t mean there is a direct connection. It denies the difference between independent expositions and the Salon des Refusés allowed (or ordained) by the state and the fact that just a few of the partakers of the Salon des Refusés joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions.

The Salon des Refusés of 1864:
Boine mentions in his article that in 1864 30% of the works were rejected and that these works were added in the official catalogue under ‘Ouvrages non admis au concours des récompenses’ (R287,p416+425; Eng.: works not admitted to the awards competition). And indeed an Auguste Roosmalen exhibited two works as such and of Léon Ottin one work was in the normal catalogue and another number not (iR1;R287,p419+420). Boine calls it ’the Salon des Refusés’ of 1864. Monneret and Walther confirm this (R88;R3,p694), but it is hardly mentioned by other sources. Also, Authier mentions, in his request of 1872, ‘a room in the Palais de l’Industrie like it was done in 1863 and 1864’ (R287,p421). It was organised in the adjacent rooms of the Salon, where 286 artists, exhibited 375 art-works, including 282 paintings. It received hardly attention. (R88).


Requests for a Salon des Refusés:
In several years there had been requests for another Salon des Refusés. These requests were dependent on the permission given by the government. So there is not much relation to the independent group expositions of the ‘impressionists’.
In 1866 Cézanne asked for a new Salon des Refusés (R48;R34,p21-3;R164,p8;R88). Corot and Daubigny were part of the Jury (R30,p9). Cézanne addressed his request to Count Nieuwerkerke, superintendent of Fine Arts, who rejected the request: ‘We have come to realize how inconsistent with the dignity of art the exhibiton of the Refusés was, and it will not be repeated.’ (R1,p142;R287,p416) After the rejection of Cézanne and others in 1866 Fortuné Marison threatened with the organisation of a rival exhibition overpowering the young over the old artists (R2,p96+114). Also Zola in L’Evénement (1866/04/27 – 05/20) supported the request. (R1,p143)
In 1867 many ‘impressionists’ were rejected, including Cézanne, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and also Bazille and Guillemet (R1,p168). A petition for another Salon des Refuses could be signed at the atelier of Latouche (R88). Monneret writes that Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and also Bazille took the initiative (R88). It was dated the 5th of May and addressed to Count Nieuwerkerke (R287,p418). Renoir had signed this petition (R31,p296), after Daubigny, who was part of the jury that year, recommended this (R287,p417). The petition was rejected (R1,p170;R2,p96).
1869/05/27 a certain Auguste Roosmalen asked in a letter to Vaillant for a Salon des Refusés (R287,p419+425;iR1).
1870/04/08 Véron asked in a letter to Maurice Richard for a Salon des Refusés (R287,p419+425).
1872/06/02 there was a petition by Authier asking for a Salon des Refusés signed by 26 artists, including Cézanne, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and also Fantin-Latour, Jongkind, Manet. The initiative came probably from A. Rossi and L. Authiès (See their letter to Pissarro 1872/04/28). Note 1: Authier is sometime written as Authie and as Authiès (R287,p421+426;R116I,p136). Note 2: Pissarro + Sisley hadn’t submit to the Salon. Some sources mention that in May the petition was addressed to Charles Blanc, directeur des Beaux-Arts (R2,p104). Others that it was done to Jules Simon, the minister of public education, religion and the fine arts. Raeburn dates the petition 1872/6/18 saying it was done by Charles Blanc and directed to the Minister (R31,p297;R5,p73). The petition was rejected. Boine writes it was rejected by Charles Blanc and that Jules Simon left the option of an exhibition after the Salon (R287,p421+426). Other artists that signed were: Béliard (R21,p277), Cals, Lépine, Monet, Léon Ottin (iR4;R88,p636) and Daubigny (R3,p685). In the same year there also were petitions by Virginia Rémy and Alphonse Lambert (R287,p421+426). (See: R116I,p136;R5,p73;R166,p263;R31,p297;R2,p104;R287,p421+426).
Some rejected works were exhibited at the art-dealers Goupil and Durand-Ruel (R88).

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). 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). The idea was rejected by Maurice Richard and Charles Blanc (R287+425).


The Salon des Refusés of 1873:
In 1873 there was an ‘Exposition Artistique des Oeuvres Refusés’ (R287,p422). The catalogue mentions 277 partakers exhibiting 424 works, so much less than in 1863. It looks like many partakers were landscapists. Most of them are not rendered in the Dictionaire des Petits Maîtres de la peinture (1820-1920), so about completely forgotten. Also more traditional works were rejected. Almost 9% of the titles refer to historical, religious or mythological themes.
Of these 277 partakers, just 9 would join the ‘impressionist’ expositions: Attendu, Béliard, Bureau, Guillaumin, Latouche, Lépine, de Molins, Renoir and Rouart. So again, this Salon des Refusés is not very important for the ‘impressionist’ expositions. But still, this Salon des Refusés of 1873 is more important for the ‘impressionist’ expositions, than the one of 1863. All these 9 ‘impressionists’ joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition of 1874, thus representing 29% of all the 30+1hc=31 partakers. Only Guillaumin, Renoir and Rouart would exhibit more than 2x with the ‘impressionist’ expositions.
Other ‘impressionists’ exhibited at the Salon of 1873: Boudin, Cassatt, Colin, Debras, Desboutin and Morisot. Monet, Pissarro and Sisley hadn’t submitted works to the Salon in 1873 (and 1872) (R5,p73+78). Probably putting more trust in the purchases of Durand-Ruel and the exhibition of these works in his London gallery (R166,p108+263;R22I,p99-101;R116I,p134).


The Salon des Refusés of 1875 and 1886:
In 1875 and 1886 there also had been a Salon des Refusés. These Salons often are not mentioned by sources on Impressionism (R3,p694). In 1875 there were 157 partakers exhibiting 290 works. Of the ‘impressionists’ only Mulot-Durivage exhibited 1 work. In 1886 just 30 partakers exhibiting 51 works. None of the ‘impressionists’ took part. (iR1) Note that the number of participant reduced each next Salon, from at least 410 in 1863, to 277 in 1873, to 157 in 1875 untill just 30 in 1886.



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. Members of this group were Félix Bracquemond, Cézanne, Degas, Guillaumin, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, and related painters like Fatin-Latour , Guillemet, Manet and Pre-Impressionists like Daubigny, Corot, Diaz, Rousseau and Courbet (R2, p17+93; R22,p66; R59,p177). (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 the same year several art-dealers had their own exhibitions, also showing works of Monet R2,p94.) In another lettre two years later (1869/05) Bazille repeated this idea: ‘each year we will rent a large studio’. He writes that Courbet, Corot, Diaz, Daubigny and many others agreed to sent in their works (R2,p93).


My main sources are Rewald (1973=R1), Walther (2013=R3), and Boine (R287).