On this day in 1863 the Salon des Refuses, translated as the “exhibition of rejects” opened in Paris.
In 1863 the Salon jury refused two thirds of the paintings submitted including works from Courbet, Manet, Whistler and Pissarro. The artists and their supporters protested and when the protestation reached Emperor Napoleon III he issued the following statement, “Numerous complaints have come to the Emperor on the subject of the works of art which were refused by the jury of the Exposition. His Majesty, wishing to let the public judge the legitimacy of these complaints, has decided that the works of art which were refused should be displayed in another part of the Palace of Industry.”
The new exhibition was an instant success with over a thousand visitors a day, however the response was wholly positive with critics and the public often ridiculing the refusés, but the attention also served to legitimise the emerging avant-garde. The Impressionist artists continued to exhibit their works outside the traditional Paris Salon under the title of Salon des Refuses beginning in 1874. and by 1886 the popularity of the traditional Salon had declined with people more interested in the Impressionist movement.