FOR several years the relations between the impressionists had been compromised by disagreements of every kind. Since 1877 Cézanne had not appeared in any of the exhibitions of the group, Sisley had not participated in the exhibitions from 1879 to 1881, Monet and Renoir, desirous, "for entirely commercial" reasons, as Renoir explains, of being shown by the official Salon, abstained in 1880 and 1881. Degas had then wanted to break with them, which had led Caillebotte to suggest to Pissarro that they break with Degas. Despite these difficulties, they had all appeared together in 1882. In 1883 their dealer, Durand- Ruel, had held a series of one-man shows of the impressionists. But in 1884 and 1885 there had been no exhibitions at all.
At the start of 1886 Eugèene Manet, brother of the painter (who had died three years before), and his wife, Berthe Morisot, went to Pissarro, as well as to Degas, Monet, Sisley, Renoir and others, to urge the preparation of an eighth general exhibition of the impressionist group. Pissarro, who had already introduced Gauguin to his colleagues and had previously insisted that Cézanne be permitted to show his paintings with them, responded by requesting that Signac and Seurat be invited. His request was strongly opposed, and, in the early part of March 1886, Pissarro wrote to his son, Lucien, who was then in England:
Yesterday I had a violent run-in with Monsieur Eugène Manet on the subject of Seurat and Signac. The latter was present, as was Guillaumin. I beg you to believe me when I say that I rated Manet roundly. -- Which is not going to please Renoir. -- But anyhow, and this is the point, I explained to Monsieur Manet, who probably didn't understand anything I said, that Seurat had something new to contribute which these gentlemen, despite their talent, couldn't appreciate, that I was personally convinced of the progressiveness of his art, which would yield, at a given moment, extraordinary results. After all, I am not much concerned with the appreciation of artists, no matter whom; I do not accept the snobbish judgments of the "romantic impressionists" to whose interest it is to combat new tendencies. I accept the challenge, that's all. But before anything has been done they want to stack the cards, and ruin the exhibition. -- Monsieur Manet was beside himself! I didn't calm down.