Edited By James Kearns and Alister Mill
Sculpting a National Career Abroad: Belgian Sculptors at the Paris Salon
The Paris Fine Art Salon influenced the French art scene throughout the nineteenth century. Interestingly enough, this grand exhibition also had a substantial impact in its neighbouring country, Belgium. This is not as obvious as it might seem, as Belgium yearly organised its own Salons. Nonetheless, artists still aspired to exhibit at the prestigious French equivalent, rendering a more international public and fame. Next to this objective to participate in the international art scene abroad, the importance of the Paris Salon on a national level also turned out to be a significant motivation. For instance, the presence of Belgian artists at the Paris Salon was systematically reviewed in Belgian art journals and newspapers, and art critics ascribed great importance to the perception and reception of Belgian art at the French Salon.1 Moreover, Belgian artists often stressed their participation, and their occasional medals at the Paris Salon, to invigorate their reputation in the struggle for commissions.2 ← 291 | 292 →
This paper focuses on the less studied field of sculpture and aims to elucidate the specific circumstances and motivations of Belgian sculptors at the Paris Salon. For instance, what problems did these artists face, which networks did they use and did their nationality have an impact on their lives and careers, both in Belgium and abroad? This way, the intricate role of the Paris Salon abroad, and its influence on the development of a Belgian sculpture school are examined.
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