New Exhibitions: New York, Paris, Brussels

FÉNÉON's brochure, Les Impressionnistes en 1886, had historical meaning beyond the sense of its title. It not only supplied the first analysis of Seurat's technique, but in emphasizing the triumph of system over intuition presaged the disruption of the impressionist group. The fact is that the impressionists never again organized an exhibition after their eighth show, already so incomplete. Disputes about the "divisionist" technique of Seurat and Pissarro finally brought about the break-up of the old comrades. The first exhibition of the group in which those who called themselves neo-impressionists participated was at the same time the last collective effort of the old-guard impressionists.

At the very moment when the painters were assembling their works for the exhibition at the Maison Doré, Paul Durand-Ruel, whose affairs had taken an almost disastrous turn, was receiving an invitation from the American Art Association. With a courage steeled by desperation he resolved to collect a great number of paintings for an important exhibition in America, the first of its kind. The official dealer of Manet, Renoir, Monet, Sisley and Pissarro, he yielded to the latter's insistence and decided to include certain works by Seurat and Signac. In March of 1886 Durand-Ruel left for New York with 300 canvases, which he planned to place on exhibition in Madison Square Garden, the show to be announced simply as: Works in Oil and Pastel by the Impressionists of Paris. The New York Daily Tribune observed:

The coming of the French Impressionists has been preceded by much violent language regarding their paintings. -- Those who have the most to do with such conservative investments as the works of Bouguereau, Cabanel, Meissonier and Gérôme have imparted the information that the paintings of the Impressionists partake the character of a "crazy quilt" being only distinguished by such eccentricities as blue grass, violently green skies and water with the coloring of a rainbow. In short it has been said that the paintings of this school are utterly and absolutely worthless.65

In order to soften the shock which the works of these painters,66 and of Signac and Seurat (the latter had sent his Baignade and several landscapes) were likely to cause the American public, Durand-Ruel included a few academic

-37-

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