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Spotlight On: Café Guerbois


Edouard Manet, "At the Café Guerbois," 1869

What is more quintessentially Parisian than a small café where guests sipped on coffee and nibbled on croissants? How about a café that also seconded as a meeting place every Thursday and Sunday for Impressionist masters Manet, Monet, Bazille, Renoir, writer Émile Zola and countless others to participate in lively discussions from 1866 to 1874?

Not only the once gathering center for these artistic and influential individuals, legend dictates that a song was written at the Café Guerbois where in 1870 Manet challenged Louis Edmund Duranty to a duel, upset at one of Duranty’s reviews of the Impressionist’s work. With the only injury being a slight wound to Duranty, the two felt honor was achieved and walked away from the match as friends. Although the site where the café once stood is now a collection of shops and you can no longer hear the heated debates echo throughout the café’s grounds in the voices of Monet or Renoir, the legends and charisma of these masterful individuals still linger in the Parisian streets.
The Café Guerbois and countless other cafés in Paris during the days of modern art played an influential role in artistic individuals such as Manet, Renoir, and Monet to brainstorm ideas that led to artists challenging the perception of art and how it should be viewed. But, most importantly, if the passions of these Impressionist artist taught us anything when they sat leisurely in their chairs, huddled in the corner of the Café Guerbois, it’s that modern art is meant to be more than a simple representation of a landscape or Parisian street. It is meant to be the subject of intellectual thought and debate, though now, dueling in the Parisian streets over such subjects is heavily frowned upon.
Café Guerbois
9, avenue de Clichy
17th arrondissement

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