They had chosen the April date because it came before the annual Salon and therefore could not be compared to the Salon des Refusés and all the negative connotations with which it was associated.
Together they had agreed the rules: no juries, all-comers were welcome as long as the subscription had been paid, and all artists would be treated the same (very similar to the model Duchamp would adopt in New York nearly fifty years later).
The title of the exhibition was the same as the title of the Society, not very catchy, but the location was good.
It was held at 35 Boulevard des Capucines, near the Paris Opéra in the heart of the city, in the spacious studio that had recently been used by Nadar, a famous society photographer of the day and a daring balloonist.
They made for a slightly odd group, held together in part by the collaborative nature of Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), the intellect of Manet and the monumental talent of Monet.
Edgar Degas (1834–1917) and Cézanne didn’t really fit in, and would later be critical of the others’ methods and doctrine.
Berthe Morisot (1841–95), the only female in the group (at this stage) and an artist of enormous skill, was there because of her close friendship with Manet (she subsequently married his brother Eugène). Alfred Sisley (1839–99), born in France but of English parentage, completed the cast of those sitting at the café. He was always a bit of an outsider, although he had studied with, and was close to, Monet and Renoir (1841–1919).
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.