He insisted that a second exhibition be set up in opposition to the Academy’s Salon, so that the public could decide who’s approach to art was better.
The name of the opposing 1863 show was Salon de Refusee, salon of the rejected.
Napoleon III had unwittingly released the Modern Art Genie. He had given the artists an estate approved platform, and with the notion that there was an alternative to the Academy.
And although the public was largely unenthusiastic about what was on show at the Salon de Refusee, the artistic community was not.
There was one painting in particular the caught the eye of an up-and-coming group of young artists looking for inspiration, which was Le Dejeuner sur L’herbe by Edouard Manet.
One of those approving artists was a young Claude Monet, who saw in Manet’s painting a new mode of representation. A little later he started work, later aborted, possibly because of unfavourable comments made by Courbet when he visited Monet’s studio and saw the work in progress, on his own Le Dejeuner sur L’herbe. He chose to fully clothe all parties and remove Manet’s references to classical antiquity, partly as a homage to Manet, but also as a competitive challenge.
Meanwhile Manet had completed his next work for possible inclusion in the Salon.
Again he had clothed the painting in art historical references, while presenting a naked subject. Under normal circumstances such a composition of a nude woman would’ve pleased the Academy who consider the classical painting of an idealised nude to be a highpoint in artists collection.
But Manet had not idealised his nude. In fact he had taken Titian’s mythical beauty, The Venus of Urbino from 1538, and turned her into a harlot.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.