It hadn’t been easy.
Rejection by the establishment was an expensive business, and, for those who like Monet were not blessed with a private income, close to ruinous.
‘Why won’t you show with us?’ asked Monet. ‘My fight is with the Academy, my battleground their Salon,’ replied Manet.
He did so gently, as he had done umpteen times before, careful not to belittle his friends’ efforts or suggest that he did not support them. ‘It is a great shame, my friend. You belong with us.’
Manet smiled and gave a gentle, conciliatory nod. ‘We’ll be fine,’ Pierre-Auguste Renoir said assertively. ‘We are good artists; we know that. Remember what Baudelaire said before he died: “Nothing can be done except little by little.” That is what we are doing, it is not big, but it is something!’
‘Maybe it will amount to nothing,’ said Paul Cézanne. Monet laughed. Cézanne (1839–1906), the man from Aix, said little, and when he did speak it was likely to be negative.
He had made his reservations about the exhibition known from the moment the artists had collectively helped found Société Anonyme des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, etc., an independent group that aimed to establish an alternative annual exhibition to rival the Academy’s Salon.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.