the Salon


the Salon

The eight ‘impressionist’ expositions were independent of the Paris Salon. The Paris Salon is considered as the place for an artists to find his buyers (R3,p56). In most books and on most websites it is suggested that the ‘impressionists’ were opposed to the Salon. That there were mainly Venusses and other Classical paintings exhibited. That the Impressionists were mostly rejected by the Jury. That if they sometimes were excepted they were hung high away and ignored or that they were laughed at. But is this true? My impression is, that it is better to speak of an ambivalent relationship with the Salon.


The Salon, general information:
The Salon was first held in the ‘Salon Carré’ of the Royal palace the Louvre in 1667 (R88II,p387). The Louvre had been a royal palace since 1190 and through the ages has been extended (R97,pvi). Untill 1791 only students and professors of the ‘Académie royale de peinture et sculpture‘ exhitibed at the Salon (R88II,p387). 1848 was the last year that the Salon was held in the Louvre (iR1;R97,p2). 1857? onwards the Salon was held in the ‘Palais de l’Industrie’ at the Champs Elysées (iR1;R5,p25).
The Salon in the 1870s was organised by the ‘Ministère de l’Instruction publique, (des Cultes) et des Beaux-Arts. Direction des Beaux-Arts.’ (Eng.: Ministry of Public Instruction, Cults and Fine Arts. Direction of the Fine Arts.; iR1). Exhibiting ‘artworks of painting, sculpture, architecture, engraving and lithography of living artists’ (iR1).


The Jury of the Salon:
Not everybody was accepted to exhibit at the Salon. Everytime there was a Jury to judge the admissions. Some artists didn’t have to be judged by the jury, they were exempted (‘exempté‘) (iR1). Also Barbizon painters had been part of the Salon jury: Corot (in 1866), Daubigny (in 1866), Rousseau (R1,p139). Other members have been: Jules Breton (in 1867)  (R1,p169+194).


Prices at the Salon:
Every time medals were awarded by an awards jury. There were first, second and third class medals and sometimes special medals, such as a ‘médaille d’honneur’ and a ‘grande médaille d’honneur’. The mention ‘hors concours‘ meant that the artist no longer could be nominated for a price (because they already received them in the past) (iR1). Corrolated to the Salon (and the Expositions Universelle) artists could be a appointed in the ‘Légion d’Honneur‘ as ‘Chevalier’, ‘Officier’, ‘Commandeur’ and ‘Grandofficier’ (iR1;R231).


The Salon was a large exhibition:
The Salon was a very large exhibition. At the Salons of 1874-1886 there was an average of 3468 partakers and 5033 exhibited works. Varying from 2157 partakers with 4874 works in 1874 and 3701 partakers with 7339 works in 1880 (with the start of the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français). (iR1) Note: in total from 1874-1886 there were about 2000 art-works exhibited at the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions. Also the amount of visitors was very high. In 1876 there was a total of 518.892 visitors, including 333.892 with a free admision on sundays and Thursdays (R231/1878).


Were there mainly classical paintings exhibited at the Salon?



Were the Impressionists mostly rejected by the Salon Jury?
The jury of the Salon was entrusted since 1857 to the Institut (R88). In 1863 the number of the art-works one could submit was reduced to 3 (R88;iR5).

Members of the Jury were:
Bonnat, Bouguereau, Cabanel, Dubufe, Gérome, Meissonier, Pils.
1863: Count Nieuwerkerke (chairman); Alaux, Brascassat, Cogniet, Couder, Delacroix, Flandrins, Heim, Ingres, Meissonier, Picot, Robert-Fleury, Schnetz, Signol (R88;R1,p80;R287,p413;R3,p694)
1867: Daubigny (R287,p417).
1869: Gérôme (R287,p419)


The Salon des Refusés:
in 1863, 1873, 1875 and 1886 one could see the rejected works in a Salon des Refusés. See the link for more info.

Pre-Impressionists in the Jury

An overview in Excell.


Were the Impressionists only ignored or laughed at?


Info on the prices and awards given by the Salon and the École.
+Examples of price winning paintings.

Awards for pre-impressionists in 1824.
The Impressionists even received prices.


The Impressionists had an ambivalent relation to the Salon:

Nb ook aparte pagina

Degas stayed opposed; rule of Degas. But he included painters that had been succesfull at the Salon: 1874, Raffaëlli.

Quote Renoir. Trying to go back: Renoir, Sisley, Cézanne?, Monet.

Many ‘minor’ impressionists went back: Boudin, De Nittis, Lépine, Colin…




My main sources are Monneret (1978-81=R88II,p386-403), Cuzin (1982=R97), Brettell (1987=R210),