I hereby claim that these associations, several of which are quite old, have rendered an immense service. They welcome the entire family of artists and authors. They witness every hardship, every sufferance, every frustration. They contribute more benefits than the government […] meaning they can do more good with less money.
Victor Hugo, in 1850 at the French National Assembly
In just a few years, various mutual aid societies were founded at Taylor’s initiative.
The first of these associations was established in 1840 and was reserved for playwrights. Musicians would then form their own association under Taylor’s presidency in May 1843. On December 7, 1844, the Association of Artist Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Illustrators was born. In 1849, Taylor proposed to form such an association for all industrial inventors and artists. A suggestion that was eagerly accepted as it defended the “industrial and commercial property” of such individuals.
In less than 20 years, and thanks to the creation of these four associations, Baron Taylor succeeded in surrounding himself with important members of the artistic world. He extended his patronage to include the Society of the Literati and one for Authors and Composers. As of 1850, Taylor strove to improve relations among the members of these fraternal societies. He launched a Liaison Bulletin, The Almanac of Letters and Arts and created a coordination committee to lobby for important causes of national interest.
As one regime passed to the next, the societies Taylor founded had to become more and more reliant on themselves than on government aid. From the beginning, they were obliged to take their fate into their own hands, their existence today proof of their success, revealed notably by the number and loyalty of their members. Very rapidly, Taylor gave these associations a national – even international – dimension.
Their development depended largely on the devotion of several individuals, many famous, some more obscure and anonymous, all having ensured the associations had the necessary financial resources to come to the aid of sick or elderly members, as well as to encourage younger talents.
There is in this town an excellent man – the best of men – who one day had the idea to help a crowd of poor people he did not know. He didn’t just choose one or two, the egoist! He chose them all.
Félix Tournachon dit Nadar