3.1.11

The beginning of impressionism

I have the pleasure to live in the Batignolles area, part of the 17th arrondissement. This is where the impressionist movement was started. Most of the involved artists lived and worked here during their young years. There are especially three places on the Avenue de Clichy, close to Place de Clichy, which are very much linked to the start of the movement.
The most famous of these spots is perhaps the “Café Guerbois”. With the slightly older Edouard Manet as a respected leader, many of those who later were to become world famous, around 1870, met there regularly for lively discussions and some drinking – Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, not forgetting Frédéric Bazille (see below). They were also joined by Emile Zola, who made a lot to promote these painters, to be known as the “Batignolles Group”. One of the painters was Henri Fantin-Latour who made a famous painting from Manet’s workshop, where we can recognize Manet painting, surrounded by Renoir, Zola, Bazille, Monet… The café is not there anymore; today replaced by a men’s clothing shop. The drawing from the place is by Manet.
Immediate neighbour was the cabaret and restaurant “Père Lathuille”, founded in 1765 and to which is linked a specific event during a battle between the Russian and French troops in 1814, which took place just around the corner. The owner offered free meals and drinking to the French soldiers: “Eat and drink, my friends. Leave nothing to the enemy”! Manet made a famous painting, “Chez le Père Lathuille” (1879). The place is still there but completely transformed. In 1906 it became « Kursaal » where among others Maurice Chevallier performed. Later it was transformed to a cinema theatre and so it’s still today, since 1996 a quite specific one, “Le Cinéma des Cinéastes” supported by some of leading French film makers and concentrating on quality films. Some old equipment is exposed and on the walls behind I would like to believe that some of the original decoration has been saved. (There is also a small bar, which has inherited the “Père Lathuille” name.)
On the other side of what used to be the “Café Guerbois” is a small shop. Founded in 1830 under the name of Hennequin. This is where Manet and the future impressionist painters bought their paint and brushes. It seems that it has since more or less stayed with the same family although the painting equipment lost its importance. The shop has been sold and was closed December 31, 2010. It will now probably be transformed to a shop for cheap shoes or something similar. At least, the nice mosaic decoration should be saved.
Not far away (Rue La Condamine) used to be a workshop (the building has been replaced) where Frédéric Bazille made a painting of his colleague painters, visiting him. It seems that Renoir, Monet and Sisley at moments have occupied the same workshop. Bazille was the only one of the group who was fairly wealthy and he often shared his workshops with some of his poor colleagues. He was extremely talented, but was killed in 1870, at the age of 29, during the Franco-Prussian war. On the painting we can see him (his face painted by Manet) surrounded by Manet and Monet. Zola on the stairs is discussing with Renoir. Zola lived on the other side of the street in a backyard. The building is still there and I managed to slip through the gate, but when I tried to take a photo I was more or less kindly asked by a lady to leave the premises. (I took a photo through the small opening under the gate.)
You have a feeling that the group went along well together. There are a number of paintings where they have portrayed each other. Here are some examples. (It may be noted that when Bazille moved from one workshop to another, the chair followed.)
Another person who met with the “Batignolles group” at “Café Guerbois” was Nadar, who as from 1850 took photos of most of those days’ celebrities – Liszt, Wagner, Berlioz, Rossini, Offenbach, George Sand, Sarah Bernhardt, de Maupassant… and some painters. What was to become the start of the impressionism was an exhibition which took place in Nadar’s workshop in 1874. The building is still there, but of course transformed (Boulevard des Capucines). Cézanne, Degas, Guillaumin, Monet, Morisot, Pisarro, Renoir, Sisley… exposed and the name of impressionism was created thanks to some (negative) critics referring to Monet’s “Impression, soleil levant” ("Impression, sunrise", see also top picture), painted in 1872. This painting is today to be seen at the Marmottan Museum (see previous post), which has the world’s most complete collection of Monet paintings (and other artists).
Dr. Gachet was another visitor to « Café Guerbois ». An art sponsor and collector, he’s of course especially related to van Gogh. It may be worth mentioning that van Gogh (together with Toulouse-Lautrec) managed to expose at the “Grand Bouillon-Restaurant du Chalet” a bit further down Avenue de Clichy, around 1888, during the short time he lived in Paris. He made also a painting of the place. Of course he didn’t sell anything. But now we have left the impressionists for the post-impressionists. The restaurant has of course disappeared, replaced by a modern building and a supermarket.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your article is wonderful! There is still so many thinks to learn in your posts!
Thanks and happy New Year
Hana de Prague

Thérèse said...

Did you know that "Sunrise" not "Impression Sunrise" is another painting by Monet? I just happened to see it two weeks ago at the Getty Museum. Same theme but more than slightly different. By what I read nobody knows which one has been painted first...
I enjoy this post of yours greatly.

Studio at the Farm said...

YAY! You're back, and your page today is fascinating! I loved it, and had a small laugh at your attempt to get a photo from under the gate. Thank you, Peter.

Owen said...

Having just seen the wonderful Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais, it is a pleasure to have all this additional information presented with all the care and depth which we have grown accustomed to from you, Peter...

Always a pleasure, I can see you are off and rolling on into 2011 !

All best wishes !!!

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Peter, I think that we can get you a research grant "over here" Seriously, your detail and accompanying photos (and maps!) are fabulous... I would have loved to have seen the lady who more or less kindly asked you to leave... Even more I would have enjoyed seeing you capturing that photo under the gate!

Please remember to have an extra glass of Champagne for me when you see Virginia and Mary this week! I so wish I was going to be there with you all!

Bisous,
Genie

Virginia said...

P,
I'm laughing because you always urge me to push doors and finally you've been "caught"!HA Love the under the gate shot.

How interesting that you live in such a neighborhood so rich in history. What a fascinating post. I"d like to see the Monet exhibit but don't think we will want to stand in a long line when it's so cold and there is so much on our"list" this trip.

We'll be in the 17eme for lunch or dinner at Hier & Aujourd'hui this week. Join us??
V

Olivier said...

waouhhh une encyclopédie en un seul tome...bravo pour la recherche que tu as du effectué

claude said...

Quel magnifique post, Peter !
Voilà le genre de peinture que j'aime. Celle qui reflète la vraie vie. Une préférence pour Monet et Renoir.

ALAIN said...

Et dans cent ans, ce seront les maisons des photographes des Batignolles dont on parlera dans les blogs !

V Rakesh said...

Absolutely wonderful! May you continue to enthrall your readers (fans) with some very interesting snippets from history that are truly iconic!

Have a wonderful year ahead!

hpy said...

Tu n'as pas fait beaucoup de photos là! Deviendrais-tu paresseux avec la nouvelle année - que je te souhaite excellente!

Christina said...

Overjoyed to have discovered your blog! So much great information and just love looking at the photos you post! Taking a trip to Paris in a month, so looking forward to discovering the city and checking out lots of the places you've mentioned!

Rhi said...

Peter,
I will be leaving London, bound for Paris Saturday, 08 January. I would love to grab coffee or meet up; plus it's nice knowing someone in the city. Hope to hear from you soon!!

Ruth said...

Terrific, Peter! I've been giving much thought to Paris as artist point zero, because of Rilke and Cézanne, and Rodin of course. I was also just at the Chicago Art Institute where I spent much time with Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc. I was wondering about their lives together, and what it must have been like to talk together, work together, just to be contemporaries!

Thank you for your very great effort compiling this post, and all of them, that recount the history of your magnificent city.

The Clever Pup said...

Very Interesting. I'll have to do this next time. I did a "Montparnasse in the 20s tour" of my own making in October

lasiate said...

toujours es ballades documentaires et passionnantes.
Allez comme une impression de Meilleurs vœux

Bagman and Butler said...

A little sad seeing the Cafe and paint shop bought and converted to other things...but change is life, I guess. Makes me wish for a time machine. Aha! I guess your blog is the closest thing to a time machine available -- thanks for the ride.

Jeanie said...

So nice to have a little time to finally catch up on blogs and take a field trip to Paris through your eyes! I particularly enjoyed this post, being a lover of Impressionism and knowing something of the history behind it and certainly the artists, but not really knowing their locations in Modern Day Paris. I so applaud your sense of accuracy and research and of course your photos are terrific. Your passion for the work, the area, the period and Paris is what continually draws me back to Peter's Paris.

JM said...

Super interesting post! Great work as usual, Peter. All the best for 2011.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Great post, Peter!
I always learn when I visit your blog!
You did a good job here!
Thanks!

Scheherazade said...

Thanks for your post. I know there is an excellent PBS or KOCE show out there about French Impressionism. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the one I had in mind, but I found this 2001 PBS program.

http://www.wliw.org/productions/art/the-french-impressionists/327/

Starman said...

I very much like the Impressionists. I have a small copy of “Impression, soleil levant” which I bought at the Marmottan.

krystyna said...

Thank you, thank you Peter!

for the fact that you are
for the wonderful photos
for the wonderful information
of the miraculous parts of Paris
and above all
for that
you are my friend,
a great friend!

May the year 2011 will be the best for you!

Jack said...

What a wonderfully educational and interesting post. Thank you!

Cheryl said...

My favorite group of French Artists! I'm currently reading about them in the Sue Roe book.

Too bad about the paint store, I would have loved to browse around imagining Manet, Renoir and Degas doing the same thing so long ago.

Happpy New Year!!!

Alba said...

Passionnant ton billet

Cezar and Léia said...

Such a fabulous post dear Peter, congratulations.I'm a big fan of impressionism!
Hugs
Léia

Cergie said...

Une seule remarque Peter, on ne met pas la particule lorsqu'on ne met pas de prénom ni de Monsieur devant le nom de famille, alors c'est Maupassant tout court. Pour le reste, le suédois à Paris est tout à fait parfait.
(Ils étaient bien jeunes aux Batignolles n'est ce pas ?
Et puis je suis retournée à l'expo du Grd Palais et ai été déçue de ne pas avoir vu la pie. Elle s'est maybe envolée ou je l'ai loupée. Il y avait tant de toiles du maitre)

Drew Benn said...

Wow such an interesting Blog! I love it. It's quite a history lesson, I find it fascinating.

I've only ever seen the tourist type sites in Paris, but I'd love to spend at least a year living there and see more, you're so luck to be surrounded by such culture.

I teach film and I'm especially interested in French New Wave, I'd love to live in it's homeland!

Anai Le said...

¡Feliz año, Peter!

Y gracias por mostrarnos París.

Kate said...

Change can often be lots of fun, but in commerce when progress marches on it sometimes leaves something less in its wake. Too bad the paint shop has closed; I sincerely hope that something pedestrian does not take its place, but I guess that's too much to hope for!

Jilly said...

What a marvellous and informative post. I can't imagine how much work and research this took. You are a wonder, Peter, but then we all know this! I love that you took that shot under the gate! Can just see you doing it.
Have a lovely time with Virginia and Mary and have a glass of champange for me - and for Genie as she can't be there either! One day I'll get to Paris, Peter but meanwhile wait for you in Menton. Have a wonderful 2011!

Ola said...

There is something about the colors you captured on your pictures that makes it easier to imagine how the whole art was created

Olga said...

The impressionist movement has been on the art scene for a while. It doesn't mean that discussion about it has ended. Just recently I had arguments with my architect friends about Monet and his input in modern art.
Thank you for the very interesting post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,
I have only been following you for a couple of months and love your blog. It is so informative, I arrived in Paris Christmas day my luggage is nowhere to be found and I am also doing a blog, but I feel like a fake in comparison to you.
Adele

Seattle Real Estate said...

This post absolutely great. Very informative. Thank you for sharing this Adele. More Power to you.

Adam said...

Excellent work Peter, and quite amusing to see you getting told off for once! I often wonder how you get away with it, because I seem to get told off all the time!

Do you have a smartphone? I find that I can get away with taking photos with them because people just assume I'm writing a text message or using the GPS...

Bettina said...

What a great and interesting post.
Thank you for sharing and taking the trouble as well.

richard said...

Great context, Peter. We think we know all about the Impressionists, and other artists, but it's this sort of detail that brings the whole cultural milieu to life for me. It's easy to overlook the fact that artists existed and developed amongst bricks and mortar, shops and cafes like the rest of us. Even though the environs have changed, maybe even because they have changed, I find this article brings them closer. Great stuff as usual.

Trotter said...

Fabulous post!! Everything there, including the after life of Cafe Guerbois as «Celio for men»... ;)

joanny said...

It is a rare treat and a definite luxury looking at your photographic journey of Paris, for it is also historical documentation with people places and events that is information not always readily known or available, many Parisians do not know all the hidden treasures, and the stories of many famous people you mention with the daily and anecdotal information is fantastic.
It would be an even better luxury though if I was in Paris, but since that is not happening at the moment I will dream through your photo's -- I am learning so much -- Also that photo under the gate was priceless... a perfect fit for the Sunday mood to lift my spirits. Have a great relaxing Sunday yourselves.

cheers,
joanny

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post, Peter. So entertaining, so informative, so perfect. Mil gracias! Maria O. Russell

Casey Klahn said...

Very enjoyable. Thanks for posting!