Degas and the Impressionists

Edgar Degas. The Cotton Exchange. 1873

From Jeffrey Meyers’ Impressionist Quartet (p. 168):

Though Degas recruited the Impressionist painters, he freely criticized their work. He maintained that Monet created nothing but beautiful decorations, and at an exhibition of brightly colored paintings he dramatically exclaimed: “‘Let me out of here. Those reflections in the water hurt my eyes!’ His pictures were always too draughty for me! If it had been any worse I should have had to turn up my coat collar.” He urged his colleagues to emphasize draftsmanship rather than color-a more fundamental difference than studio as opposed to outdoor painting-but they ignored his advice and went their own way. In March 1874, a month before the opening of the first exhibition, Degas told Tissot (then in England) that he planned to usurp the official Salon with paintings of contemporary life: “I am getting really worked up and am running the thing with energy and, I think, a certain success …. The realist movement no longer needs to fight with the others, it already is, it exists, it must show itself as something distinct, there must be a salon of realists.”

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