A cube of soft green-tinted plaster, set with Sèvres biscuit ornaments: something like a Louis XV snuffbox for the Eiffel Tower.
Put on gloves and go in, but first put fifty cents in the urn (it's for the French pastelists' pension fund).
The interior is elegant and the charm of what you see there quickly makes you forget both the ugliness of the building and its complete uselessness. M. Formigé had built such a beautiful palace to house all the arts of France and abroad, including pastels!
Having made these reservations, we must bow to the very real talent of most of the exhibitors: MM. Gervex, one of the best painters in all genres of this time; Puvis de Chavannes, and Mrs. Cazin, neither of them very pastelists; but how can we fail to see, in the first, a great artist, and in the other a poet's nature? Let us continue our enumeration: M. Lhermitte, very strong, with an excessive tendency to underline everything he paints; M. Thévenot, a sturdy pastel worker, who would willingly claim to be a descendant of the great Quentin de la Tour; Messrs Blanche and Helleu. refined talents, a little too skin deep, the appointed painters of the beautiful ladies of the day, frozen in their finery and dreaming of vague things in hieratic attitudes renewed from the pyramids; Mr. E. Lévy, the portraitist of families: security, discretion and cleanliness of work. M. Cazin, poetry in coloured cotton; an artist, moreover, and one of the rarest - we shall find him later. Mr. Duez, without equal for screen flowers, and knowing how to do all the other good works of painting very well - here he has fun. Messrs. J.-L. Brown, Heilbuth, talents consecrated by victory, a little old perhaps for this game of pastel, which requires a fresh eye and supple fingers. M. Besnard, finally, this excessive fanciful artist incubated by Cabanel, the charming inventor of the luminous woman, with changing reflections, the first idea of these fountains which are the blessing of our evenings on the Champ de Mars. You have to give two tickets to see this painting, but you don't regret them.
© Exposition de Paris - 1889