The Volpini Exhibition, 1889
The Exhibition at the Café des Arts in summer 1889 was arranged by Paul Gauguin and his circle, on the walls of a café just outside the gates of the Exposition universelle, and run by a certain Monsieur Volpini. Though Gauguin and his companions had a poster and an illustrated catalogue printed, this show of Paintings by the Impressionist and Synthetist Group (Peintures du Groupe Impressioniste et Synthétiste) went almost unappreciated and finally proved to be a disaster: "Nothing sold", was the bitter summary for the participants.
The official art exhibition at the Académie des Beaux-Arts accompanying the Exposition universelle displayed works only by invited artists, and furthermore, the selection of works to be exhibited had to pass the judgement of official juries. Neither Gauguin nor his friends could hope to enter this exhibition. But by chance, Emile Schuffenecker found another way that their work could be presented to the public. Monsieur Volpini, the owner of the Grand Café des Beaux-Arts, had a problem: the mirrors he had ordered in Italy to decorate the interior of his café, would not arrive in time for the opening of the Exposition universelle. It was proposed that the gap could be filled with a display of paintings by Schuffenecker and his friends. Gauguin received this news in Brittany: "Bravo! You have succeeded", he answered and added: "Remember that it is we who are inviting the others, therefore ... (!)" Gauguin proposed to include:
- 10 paintings each, by Schuffenecker, Guillaumin, Gauguin and Bernard
- 2 paintings each, by Roy and Fauché, "the man from Nancy"
- 6 paintings, by Vincent
Guillaumin as well as Theo van Gogh, acting for his brother Vincent, refused to participate, while Anquetin, Laval and Monfreid joined the group - and finally, Bernard split his contribution: two of his paintings were shown under the pseudonym Ludovic Nemo and described as peintures pètroles.
Layout and Illustrations
The catalogue of this exhibition has a somewhat idiosyncratic layout. The title page is followed by a list of contributing artists (Exposants), accompanied by a reproduction of Gauguin's "Aux Rochers noires". The next double-page lists Gauguin's contribution (nos. 31-47) and reproduces Gauguin's Les Faneuses, and the one following Schuffenecker's list (nos. 55-67, 78, 69-73, 83) together with Ramasseuses de varech (Yport). Émile Bernard continues (nos. 7-19bis, 75-88), illustrated by Reverie. Now, Louis Anquetin (Nos. 1-6bis) precedes Louis Roy (nos. 49-54bis) and an illustration of his Gardeur de cochons. Léon Fauché (nos. 22, 23, 25, 26, 28) and a reproduction of his Paysan occupies the next two pages, Charles Laval (nos. 84, 85, 89-96) and George Daniel (nos. 20-21bis) continue; Femme lisant of the latter is illustrated. The two final pages of the catalogue list two works by Ludovic Némo (nos. 74, 87) accompanied by an untitled reproduction, and note that an album of lithographs by Bernard and Gauguin can be seen on demand (Visible sur demande Album de Lithographies, par Paul Gauguin et Émile Bernard).
- Poster, 39,8 x 28,6 cm, printed by E. Watelet, 1889
- Letter to Schuffenecker, c. : see Malingue no.
- Catalogue de L'Exposition de Peintures du Groupe Impressioniste et Synthétiste faite dans le local de M. Volpini au Champ-de-Mars 1889, Impr. Watelet; reprinted by Watelet-Arbelot, 1971, and republished in Modern Art in Paris, ed. Theodore Reff, vol. 28, New York & London 1982
- Rewald, John: Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin, revised edition: Secker & Warburg, London 1978, pp. 255-265, illustrated
- Siberchicot, Clément : L'Exposition Volpini, 1889. Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, Charles Laval : une avant-garde au coeur de l'Exposition universelle, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2011, illustrated