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

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Edited By 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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Sculpting a National Career Abroad: Belgian Sculptors at the Paris Salon

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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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