IN a period in which private exhibitions by art dealers were almost unknown, the Salons controlled the only opportunity artists had to show their work. Hence to be rejected by the jury meant to be condemned to silence for at least a year, until the next Salon. The painters thus deprived of the single means of bringing their work before the public came together in the spring of 1884 to organize an exhibition of independent artists. It was clearly stipulated that "in principle, works of all members would be accepted," and that each artist would be able to exhibit two paintings. As soon as the Salon was authorized, a few modest posters announced from the walls of Montmartre and Montparnasse:
SALON DES ARTISTES INDEPENDANTS, 1884
autorisé par le ministre des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris
Baraquement B, Cour des Tuileries
du 15 mai au 1er juillet16
Four hundred and two artists participated in this exhibition, held in a construction which had been set up as the temporary quarters of a Post Office. Most of the exhibitors had been rejected by the Salon, but there were among them painters who had not wanted to appear before its jury. Among the exhibitors--unknown to one another--were Odilon Redon with drawings and lithographs, Dubois-Pillet with the canvas Dead Child, Charles Angrand with landscapes, Henri-Edmond Cross with Corner of a Garden in Monaco, painted in low key, Paul Signac with Pont d'Austerlitz and a view of the Rue Caulaincourt, done in the impressionist manner, and Georges Seurat with Une Baignade.17 Seurat's large canvas was hung in the canteen; evidently it was not judged worthy of more prominent display. It was here that the painter first came face to face with the public and the critics. The exhibition was opened on May 15, without the presence of Jules Gréevy, President of the Republic, who had announced that he would come.