The group of artists who became known as the Impressionists did something ground-breaking in addition to painting their sketchy, light-filled canvases: they established their own exhibition. This may not seem like much in an era like ours, when art galleries are everywhere in major cities, but in Paris at this time, there was one official, state-sponsored exhibition—called the Salon—and very few art galleries devoted to the work of living artists.

For most of the nineteenth century then, the Salon was the only way to exhibit your work (and therefore the only way to establish your reptutation and make a living as an artist). The works exhibited at the Salon were chosen by a jury—which could often be quite arbitrary.

The artists we know today as Impressionists—Claude Monet, August Renoir, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley (and several others)—could not afford to wait for France to accept their work. They all had experienced rejection by the Salon jury in recent years and felt that waiting an entire year between exhibitions was too long. They needed to show their work and they wanted to sell it.

Best artists in this genre:
  • Claud Manet
  • Renoir
  • Degas

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