The Pavilion of Realism  

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The "Pavillon du Réalisme" was a private pavilion Gustave Courbet had constructed on the Avenue Montaigne, in the margins of the Exposition universelle of 1855. Courbet erected the pavilion after he had submitted fourteen paintings for exhibition at the Exposition Universelle and three of them were rejected for lack of space, including A Burial at Ornans and his other monumental canvas The Artist's Studio.

Refusing to be denied, Courbet took matters into his own hands. He displayed forty of his paintings, including The Artist's Studio, in his The Pavilion of Realism which opened on June 28, six weeks after the Exposition Universelle.

After several weeks of peevish excitement and enthusiasm and "ecstasies" over his own monument, Courbet opened the doors on June 28, 1855. Above the entrance was the following inscription :
G. Courbet.
Exhibition of 40 Pictures.
Entrance Fee: 1 franc.
The plan of holding a private exhibition outside the Salons was in those fortunate times an amazing novelty. Gautier was astonished at seeing Realism in a shed, and Maxime du Camp was shocked at seeing the artist's advertisements on the back page of the newspapers between disinfectants and sarsaparilla. Paul Mantz, with his usual sagacity, touched the heart of the matter: the artist was fully within his rights in exhibiting his work at his own risk and peril, since the jury had refused a picture that was " sincerely and honestly painted, and full of fine qualities."
--Gustave Courbet (Léonce Bénédite)

Although artists like Eugène Delacroix were ardent champions of his effort, the public went to the show mostly out of curiosity and to deride him. Attendance and sales were disappointing, but Courbet's status as a hero to the French avant-garde became assured. He was admired by the American James McNeill Whistler, and he became an inspiration to the younger generation of French artists including Édouard Manet and the Impressionist painters, many of whom were still in art school. The Artist's Studio was recognized as a masterpiece by Delacroix, Baudelaire, and Champfleury, if not by the public.

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