‘Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished!’ Monet stormed, striking the table with Le Charivari. ‘Who the hell does he think he is?’
Thwack. ‘How dare he?’
Thwack. ‘“A sketch” I could live with, such an insult I have heard many times before.
But “Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished” is too, too much. The man is an imbecile, a philistine: an oaf!’
Thwack, thwack, thwack! ‘Tell me again, Camille, what is the fool’s name?’
‘Louis Leroy,’ replied Pissarro, before continuing to read the art critic’s sarcastic review of Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1872) (see Plate 4), one of a handful of paintings the artist had exhibited.
‘“Impression – I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it.”’
Pissarro looked up. ‘I think this critic Leroy is not being serious, Claude.’ ‘I know he’s not being bloody serious,’ barked Monet. ‘Is that it?’
‘Not quite,’ said Degas, cutting in, struggling to keep a straight face. ‘He commends you by saying, “… and what freedom, what ease of workmanship!”’
‘He is not “commending” me, Edgar, he is condemning me, and you know it!’
Which, of course, he was.
But history has a way of dealing with such cynics and it caught up with M. Leroy very quickly.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.