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Art Diary

Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism

22 March 2024

In the spring of 1874, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir and 28 other artists who had been shunned by the Paris Salon decided to band together and find a different venue in which to exhibit their works. The photographer Nadar duly offered up his studio and an exhibition was held, which the critic Louis Leroy reviewed scathingly, taking particular aim at Monet’s dream-like painting Impression, Sunrise. Just like that, Impressionism was born. This year, museums across France are marking the 150th anniversary of this landmark show – one of the most significant in the history of Western art. The largest celebration is taking place at the Musée d’Orsay, where a selection of paintings and drawings from the 1874 exhibition hang alongside works exhibited at the Salon in the same year, in an attempt to demonstrate just how alien this new style was to 19th-century eyes (26 March–14 July). Find out more from the Musée d’Orsay’s website.

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Impression, soleil levant (1872), Claude Monet. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Le Chemin de fer (1873), Édouard Manet. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Aux courses en province (c. 1869), Edgar Degas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

L’Eminence grise (1873), Jean-Léon Gérôme. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston