The New Society
At the end of 1873, at the initiative of Monet, a Société Anonyme Coopérative d'Artistes-Peintres, Sculpteurs, etc., was founded.
Birth of the new Society
At the end of 1873, on the initiative of Monet, is founded a «Société anonyme coopérative d'artistes-peintres, sculpteurs, etc.», called «Société nouvelle».
This company has three objectives ( Chronicle of Arts and Curiosity ”, 17 January 1874, p. 19):
- First, the organization of free exhibitions, without jury or honorary awards.
- Second, the sale of such works.
- Third, the publication of an exclusively arts-related journal.”
Even before its creation, the organization of the "New Society" was the subject of controversy among the members of the group. The association finally took the form of a cooperative society. Following the advice of Paul Alexis, a man of letters friend of Zola, it is inspired by the various union chambers that are then being created, and whose objective is to protect the professional interests of their members.
“The head office is temporarily located in Paris with Mr. A. Ottin, Treasurer, rue Vincent-Compoint, No. 9.
The social fund, which may be increased, either by the addition of new members who must each subscribe at least one share of 60 fr. payable in twelve terms, or by any donation that may be made to the company, is fixed at 1,200 fr. Each member must also pay, each month, the sum of 5 fr. in the social security fund; a share will be issued to him whenever his payments reach the sum of 60 fr. The share can only be transferred to partners and with the authorization of the board of directors.
Until the day of the first general meeting, the company is provisionally administered by MM. Pissarro, Mettling, Rouard, Feyen-Perrin, Meyer, de Molins, Monet, artists and painters.
The provisional supervisory board is composed of MM. Béliard, painter; Ottin, sculptor; Renoir, painter.
As a result of these appointments, and following the payment of the twelfth of the shares, the company is definitively incorporated.
The social products consist of: 1° of the admission fees to the exposures; 2° of the levies made on the sales; 3° and of any other revenue. These products, after deduction of the expenses will be shared between the partners proportionally to their stakes» (« Chronicle of Arts and Curiosity ”, 17 January 1874, p. 19).
A public company
Alexis says, “They want to unite interests, not systems; they want all workers to join” (Rewald, 1, p. 350). Participation is therefore devoid of any aesthetic constraints, which has an advantage: a possible openness to any form of expression, and a disadvantage: a lack of stylistic unity. “Degas wanted a number of other painters to be associated with the promoters of the exhibition, while Monet and his friends [Renoir and Sisley] preferred to remain among themselves” (Rivière, “Renoir,” p. 43). This disagreement was repeated at each exhibition until 1886. The lack of stylistic unity blurs the image of the exhibitions, the press will regularly echo. However, this space of freedom will promote the appearance of new expressions. Degas, but also and especially Pissarro, are very interested in young artists, which leads them to invite some of them to join the group. The enthronement of Curd, then to Mary Cassatt, through Degas, goes well, and both become full members of the group. Gauguin, introduced by Pissarro, is less well accepted. But no one forgives Degas the introduction of Raffaëlli.
Pissarro seems to us today particularly clairvoyant. Yet, his choices (Gauguin, Redon, Seurat, Signac…) arouse strong opposition among his impressionist confreres.