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The Paris Fine Art Salon/Le Salon, 1791–1881


James Kearns and Alister Mill

Following on from « Ce Salon à quoi tout se ramène »: Le Salon de peinture et de sculpture, 1791–1890, published in 2010 as an earlier volume in this series, this volume contains a selection of the papers given at the first major international conference to be held on the post-1789 Paris Fine Art Salon. Hosted by the University of Exeter in September 2013, the conference had its origins in the research project entitled Painting for the Salon? The French State, Artists and Academy, 1830–1852, funded in 2010–2012 by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, and its purpose was to situate findings of this research within the wider framework of the Salon’s nineteenth-century history. In this collection of twenty-three papers, fourteen in English, nine in French, established and new scholars of French art history examine the national and international artistic, political and cultural dimensions of the most important regular exhibition of contemporary art in the nineteenth-century world.
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The Paris Salons 1791–1881: Controversies and Debates in the North of Italy in the Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries


In 1844 the Padua critic Pietro Selvatico wrote :

In France, where public life is so strongly immersed in politics, art becomes an active agent in political life and in the hundreds of parties. Liberal in Delacroix and Delaroche, it reproduces the crimes, the anger or the picturesque customs of the Middle Ages; aristocratic in Decaisne, Alessandro Frayonard and Monvoisin, it expresses itself through the regal pomp of the Bourbons and their often licentious courts, hoping to find flattering allusions both to the fall of that family and to the venerable coats of arms of the ancient nobles; Napoleonic in Steuben, Adam and the immense genius of Vernet, who improvises battles on canvas just as the Giant of St. Helena improvised kingdoms and victories; the present art of the French, whichever path it treads, always finds one crowd cheering it and another jeering; works lifted to the heavens today will roll in the dust tomorrow, only to be placed again on an altar the next day, depending on which political opinion gains ground against its adversary.1 ← 273 | 274 →

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