Claude Monet leant forward and stirred a cube of sugar into his coffee.
He did not rush. Each ponderous revolution of the spoon, plunged deep into the hot drink, acted like a metronome marking his thoughts. And he had plenty on his mind. As did those gathered around him.
Even Édouard Manet, who was not involved in the risk-taking exercise, was tense.
For the others, though, gathered that morning at the Café Guerbois, amid the hustle and bustle of northern Paris, there was much to contemplate.
The following day, on 15 April 1874, they were opening an exhibition that could make or break their careers.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Monet himself had gambled their careers by deciding to defy the Academy system and instead put on their own show.
For years this group of thirty-something artists had met at this, their favoured café, on 11 Grande Rue des Batignolles (today 9 Avenue de Clichy), to discuss art and life (at this stage they were frequently referred to simply as the Batignolles Group).
Manet, whose studio was nearby, would often join the young tyros and encourage them to believe in what they were doing.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.