This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
March came,and our thoughts went beyond our little circle to take in the whole orbit of Continental art. The opening day of the Salon approached. But before the breaking of that radiant day came the ordeal of trial by jury; nay, before that the excited discussion of what shall we do, how shall we make a hit - even how shall we gain an entrance? The strongest of our fellows left the school to undertake their works in private; we missed their presence, but our studios were tilled with rumours of their plans, and some of us could boast of having seen first sketches, fingered costumes, and passed our judgment on pose and detail. From the men's studio, too, "le patron" and the gossipy "bonne" brought us fragments of news. Such and such one's work was "epatant," could not fail of an honourable mention, and, justice being done, "un tel" could not escape a medal. And we shared their excitement and then-honours. Varnishing day arrived. It always falls on a Sunday. Varnishing of course is the merest pretext to allow the artists and their friends a chance to view their works before the Salon is open to the world. Happy were those who possessed a ticket of admission. There were pictures for all tastes, on the walls and in the crowd, of notables - an endless procession. I turned away from them, to gaze at Sarah Bernhardt, and interrupted a philosophic summing up of the merits of the Impressionist school to take in the distinguished traits of a knot of men made up of world-known painters and sculptors, a duke, and a senator. Workmen in blouses, varnish pots in their hands, were still propelling the gigantic step-ladders upon which they operate, and here and there was seen some ill-starred painter climbing to the sky line to glaze his picture, being too poor to pay to have it done. But who stopped to sympathise with an unfortunate in the presence of a thousand works of art ! Students, passing, made their jokes about the man and his production, but the crowd did not see him.
I was in the studio of a very great artist a few days after the opening of the Salon, and, awaiting my turn to address him, listened to the following appeal by a poorly dressed man with a troubled face, in answer to the salutation of " the master."
"Monsieur, I am, Monsieur - I am distressed by the position given to my picture in the Salon; it is absolutely spoiled. It is a work of many small figures which in their high position have the appearance of tiny puppets. I........"
The Master (coldly): "Monsieur has only to write to the jury if he thinks himself unjustly treated."
Artist: "Pardon me; that is what I have clone without effect. Now, a word from Monsieur would make everything right. My picture represents two years' labour, and I have depended upon its success. I....."
The Master (conclusively): "I regret it; but I cannot interfere with the decisions of the jury." And the poor man, with a profound and piteous salutation, went away.
But the rejected of one day may be the masters of the next. Remember Millet, and Rousseau, and Corot, and Courbet. Corot laughingly used to relate the debut of one of his pictures. "No one looked at it," he said," until, remembering that people are like flies, I went and stood before it. Then two people came. The man said, 'Well, now, that is not bad; there is something in this.' 'Come away,' said the woman;' it's horrid.' " Later the picture sold for more than twenty-five thousand francs, and the proud possessor gave a dinner in its honour. But Corot could well afford to smile; he never knew privation. J. Sutherland.