Dinner with Corot, Chenavard, and Planche : Les amis de vendredi
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The Amis du Vendredi was a dinner club made of art industry professionals. They met for nearly twenty-five years in the mid-nineteenth century, and included some of the era's most esteemed figures: painters Camille Corot, Paul Chenavaard, and Alexandre Cabanel, the sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye, and the critic Gustave Planche to name a few. Given its illustrious members, the dearth of information on this club is surprising. Also unexpected are the heretofore unstudied connections between artists: Corot or Barye - judged by history as innovators - with derièe-garde art-world figures like the successful Academician Alexandre Cabanel, the failed philosopher-painter Paul Chenavard, or the curmudgeonly critic Gustave Planche. The ties that bound the Amis reveal themselves through a close reading of their bodies of work and shared correspondence. This thesis brings to light a conception of modernity developed and executed by the Amis, wrought from their generation's collective anxiety about the future of art. Figuring portrait and portrayed in the context of mid-nineteenth-century Paris reveals a glimpse of a part of the art world that lost the battle for preeminence.