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Paris 1874 - Inventing Impressionism at the Musée d'Orsay

A century and a half ago, April 15, 1874, marked the inauguration of the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris. Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Pissarro, Sisley, and Cézanne, all "hungry for independence", decided to break the chains of established artistic rules by organizing their own exhibition, thus defying conventional paths . It was the founding act of impressionism. To celebrate this anniversary, the Musée d'Orsay is offering a retrospective of some 130 works, offering a new look at this key date, considered the starting point of the avant-gardes.


Date:  March 26 to July 14, 2024

Location: Musée d'Orsay

Desire: Impressionism, major retrospective 




What exactly happened in the spring of 1874 in Paris, and how can we interpret this now legendary exhibition today? “Paris 1874. The Impressionist Moment” takes us behind the scenes of the emergence of a booming artistic movement, in a changing world.


Retrospective 1874 Orsay
Retrospective 1874 Orsay

“Paris 1874” analyzes the circumstances which brought together these 31 artists, of whom only seven today enjoy universal fame, to collectively exhibit their creations. This period was marked by the post-war period, resulting from two conflicts: the Franco-German War of 1870, followed by a violent civil war. Faced with this crisis, artists are reinventing their art and exploring new paths. A small “clan of rebels” paints scenes of modern life and landscapes in light tones, with a lively touch, sketched in the open air. As one observer points out, “what they seem to be looking for above all is impression.”


In “Paris 1874”, a selection of works exhibited during the Impressionist exhibition of 1874 is compared with paintings and sculptures presented simultaneously at the Official Salon. This unprecedented confrontation allows us to recreate the visual shock caused by the works of the Impressionists while providing nuances through surprising parallels and overlaps between this first exhibition and the official Salon.

The exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay reveals the contradictions and infinite richness of artistic creation in the spring of 1874, while emphasizing the radical modernity of the art of these young artists. " Good luck ! », encourages a critic, “something always comes out of innovations”.


This exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Orsay and Orangerie museums and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where it will be presented from September 8, 2024 to January 20, 2025.


Curator Anne Robbins, Painting curator at the Musée d’Orsay; Sylvie Patry, general curator of heritage;


Date:  March 26 to July 14, 2024

Location: Musée d'Orsay

Desire: Impressionism, big retrospective 

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