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~ The Refused ~ Series Synopsis ~

Art and sculpture in 19th Century France were everything!  They were radio, television, film and even literature (most did not read or buy books) rolled into one. In say, 1802,  can you imagine walking the halls of the Paris Salon with paintings filling the massive 20 plus foot walls and taking in these visuals. It was a memorable experience for most and a life altering experience for others.

In 1862, The Academy des Beaux Arts, which ran the Salon, was led by "The Count" Emile de Nieuwerkerke. During this time the Academy was struggling to reconcile the Romanticism of Delacroix and  the Realism of Courbet with their curriculum which was steeped in traditional Classicism and Neo-Classicism.  These divergent schools coupled with the emerging popularity of Naturalism and the success of the Barbizon artists forced the Academy into an endless defensive posture in an attempt to justify and defend their curriculum and approach. The annual Paris Salon, the worlds most prestigious art show, was the battleground where these techniques, teachers, artists and egos of the day clashed and were ultimately judged by their critical and popular success. The Salon medal winners could bank on financial rewards and prestigious commissions spurring careers to new heights. While the paintings cast out of the Salon were branded on the reverse with a glaring red "R" for Refused and eliminated from the competition leading to dashed hopes, crushed dreams and in some cases even death. The artists receiving these scarlet letters were growing in number and included many past Salon medalists and some of the most successful artists of the day.  Frustration was growing on all fronts.

The revolt began slowly in the year 1862. In September of 1862, Edouard Manet had just lost his father and was spending hours with his friend, the writer, Charles Baudelaire and turning out some of the most radical artwork of the day. Additionally, that fall, Renoir, Sisley, Monet, Bazille, Cezanne, Pissarro and the writer Emile Zola all came to Paris as young men looking to make names for themselves. "Plein Air" painting, innovative techniques, new use of color and in general a desire to break from tradition were all hotly debated issues for these young artists. The 62'-63' season culminated in May of 1863 with the Salon of the Refused (Salon des Refuses) and was attended by all of the future impressionists. The Salon of the Refused and  Manet with his Luncheon on the Grass sent shock waves through the establishment and these young artists and changed the course of history.  The Refused is that story.

The Refused Story Lines

1. Edouard Manet, how his life and career provide the axis around which our story revolves.

2. The Studio Gleyre, where Renoir, Sisley, Bazille and Monet begin their struggles, learn the ropes and forge lifelong friendships.

3. The Cezanne and Zola story line, from childhood friends in Aix-en-Provence to meeting Pissarro at the Studio Suisse.

4. Emperor Louis Napoleon and the Baron George Haussmann and the renovation of Paris. How the largest urban renewal project to date in history played a role.

5.  How the Academy of Fine Arts (Beaux-Arts), led by the Count de Nieuwerkerke, became a villainous institution attempting to stamp out any sign of what would become Impressionism.


The Refused tells the story of the formative years of the Impressionists set against the backdrop of the Second French Empire of Louis Napoleon. The story unfolds in four seasons beginning in 1862 and ending with the first Impressionist Exhibition in 1874. Initially, the primary protagonist of The Refused is Edouard Manet, a transitional figure between artistic periods and an extremely influential artist and friend to many of the younger Impressionists.  As the series evolves, the story lines of Renoir, Sisley, Bazille, Monet, et al will become the primary focus, yet Manet will remain the de facto Godfather of the series just as he was the movement itself.  The cast list is long and will include Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, Pierre Renoir, Frederic Bazille, Paul Cezanne, Emile Zola, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot among others.

In The Refused, the lives of the Impressionists and the role of the Academy, set against the ever changing political, social and physical landscape of the Second French Empire, are chronicled from the Salon des Refuses, to the Universal Exposition of 1867 and the Siege of Paris in 1870 to the first Impressionist Exhibition of 1874 in this sweeping, historical narrative.


Season One ~ Salon des Refuses ~ 8 Episodes from 1862-1863.

Season Two ~ The Exposition of 1867 ~ 8 Episodes from 1866-1867.

Season Three ~ The Siege of Paris ~  8 Episodes 1870-1871.

Season Four ~ Impression: Sunrise ~ 8 Episodes 1873-1874.

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