A selection of masterpieces which were rejected by the person(s) who commissioned them, or from major exhibitions. Illustrated contents with links.
Of all the rejects in this series, Manet’s had greatest impact on painting, and really did change the course of art.
Three times Hodler was the centre of controversy: ‘The Night’ was rejected then removed from display; two large and wonderful murals were also savaged by the critics and the emperor.
Brought up in the grim slums of Stockholm Old Town, his paintings had brought hope to many families across Europe, but his last great academic painted was rejected for 80 years.
Submitted for the final round of the Prix de Rome in 1875, the jury rejected it on a trumped-up technicality. The effect was to change the history of painting.
Painted entirely in front of the motif, and in fine detail, Brett followed Ruskin’s rules for landscape paintings, but this was rejected by the Royal Academy.
The jury for the French Pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in 1855 rejected three of Courbet’s paintings, including one of the canonical paintings of the century.
How on earth could three workmen preparing the wooden floor of an artist’s studio be vulgar? And how could that change a realist into an Impressionist?
Both her entries to the Salon in 1877 had been rejected. Then she submitted this masterpiece to the jury for the American pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in 1878.
Rejected from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition as ‘unsightly’, The Gross Clinic was hidden in an Army hospital. In 2006, it was almost sold for $68 million.