The address was number 11, Grande rue des Batignolles. Today it's a group of small shops, but in 1866, it was the Cafe Guerbois (pronounced gur-BWA). It was a noisy little place filled with marble-topped tables, cheap, metal chairs, smoke, a few paintings on the dark, paneled walls, a bar across one end of the room, and young mademoiselles taking orders and delivering drinks. During the day it was just another Paris street cafe serving light lunches, lemonade, tea, wine and presumably more potent beverages as the evening approached. It was then that the place came alive. It was the favorite hangout for the "arty" crowd, especially painters, and especially those painters who admired the work of Eduoard Manet.

Manet was the center of a group of friends, and younger, admiring fellow artists. Among the almost daily guests at the Cafe Guerbois were Paul Cezanne, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Jean Renoir and Frederick Bazille. The list reads like a who's who of rogue painters at the time. Writers such as Emile Zola, the photographer/caricaturist, Felix Nadar, came often as well as lesser-knows, Astruc, Duranty, Fantin-Latour, Constantin Guys, Duret, Guillemet, and Bracquemond. Thursday nights were set aside especially for these artist to meet, eat, talk, drink, argue, and expound. They did not always agree...actually, perhaps they SELDOM agreed full with all that was said, and some talked more than others. Some, like Cezanne did more listening than talking, but when he did, everyone else listened intently.

Few in the group could match Manet's intellectual prowess. Except for Pissarro, he was the oldest, by far the best educated, and the wealthiest. He dressed with great care, spoke with modesty and kindness, but by nature was ambitions and impetuous.

He was often witty, at times he could be ironic, occasionally even cruel. His chief conversational rival was Edgar Degas. Though their tastes in art were similiar and they seemed to respect one another, they more often than not disagreed. When they were not quarreling, they were friendly, though both were known to bear one another grudges.

Of the others, only Frederick Bazille had the education and taste for verbal sparring to tangle with minds as sharp as Degas' or Manet. Shy, but firm in his beliefs, he stood up for them with undeniable logic and passion. Together, they made up the main event, the only source of entertaintment, and the chief source of philosophical interaction for these nascent minds that were to revolutionize art during their lifetimes.