But for the Impressionists, the new opportunities photography created were far greater than any threat, not least the effect it had in stimulating the publics appetite for images of every day Parisian life.
The road to the future was apparent, but it was being blocked by the Academy, whose intransigence would ironically, provide the grit in the oyster for the Modern Art pearl to form.
It excelled in its duty to protect the country’s rich aesthetic heritage but was hopelessly backward looking when it came to nurturing its artistic future.
This was a major problem for the experimental young artists seeking to make the paintings and sculptures that reflected their time. A problem that was compounded by the Academy dominance which went beyond academia and in to commerce.
Their annual art exhibition, known as the Paris Salon, was France’s most prestigious showcase for new art, putting the selection committee in the position of kingmakers and career breakers.
If they chose to show a work by new artist, it could set them up for life, and conversely their refusing to do so, could ruin his chances of future success.
Collectors and Art Dealers would attend The Salon en masse, wide eyed with bulging wallets, ready to snap up a painting by a hot new Academy approved artist or to buy the latest offering from established name. It was a place that a large amount of newly created French art was bought.