The Salons made it possible to establish a sort of overview of French painting and to see those who the young artists, gathered around Manet, admired: Daubigny, Troyon, Corot, Delacroix, Puvis de Chavannes, Fromentin, Ricard, and those who they ignored or denounced: Bouguereau, Flandrin, Baudry, Gérôme… all in the same exhibition.
Degas evoked his friendship with Fantin-Latour and Whistler, and was a close friend of James Tissot; Cézanne proclaimed his debt to Courbet and Manet; Monet recalled that it was thanks to Boudin that he became a painter; Manet held Carolus-Duran and Jean Béraud in great regard and esteem.
By presenting this complexity in its whole, the exhibition highlights what made the Impressionists original: painting outside, from nature, in light colours, and instilling the modern feeling all around. Because as the art critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary said in 1867: "There is no need to return to history, to take refuge in legends. Beauty is before the eyes, not in the brain; in the present, not in the past; in truth, not in dreams; in life, not in death. The world we have here, before us, is the world that painting should express."