Jean-François Raffaëlli’s The Gate of St. Denis is a lively portrayal of the intersection dominated by this Parisian monument, erected in 1672 by Louis XIV to commemorate his victories in Germany and The Netherlands. Although Raffaëlli began his career as a predominantly academic painter, loosely executed anecdotal street scenes, such as this one, furthered his popularity. Raffaëlli attempted to align himself with the Impressionists; however, despite a close friendship with Edgar Degas, his efforts to join the group were met with resistance. Degas invited Raffaëlli to participate in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1880 and 1881, but this bitterly divided the group. Not only was Raffaëlli not considered an Impressionist by many, but he threatened to dominate the 1880 exhibition with his ostentatious display of more than thirty works. Claude Monet became resentful of Degas's insistence on expanding the exhibitions to include Realist painters, and he chose not to participate in the 1880 or 1881 exhibitions, complaining, "the little chapel has become a commonplace school which opens its doors to the first dauber to come along."
Label from Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860–1910, November 15, 2015–March 20, 2016