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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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Literature and Painting at the Paris Salon, 1699–1881

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Paintings with literary themes, narrowly defined as subjects taken from fiction and poetry, are relatively easy to identify in the livrets of the Salon. Artists often included the source of a subject in their entry, sometimes with a brief quotation. When they did not, the source is often obvious. Literature, however, encompasses more than poetry and fiction, and defining its wider impact on painting from the entries in the livret raises a number of difficulties. Most subjects taken from history also ultimately derive from a written text which is sometimes identified in the livret but mostly is not. The Bible is a major literary source but has been excluded from this discussion as a special case. Ovid’s name appears rarely in the livret although the Metamorphoses is probably the source for many of the fables illustrated in Salon paintings. Identifying the author, in this instance, is complicated by the existence of other sources, antique as well as modern, including the dictionaries of mythology compiled by Chompré and Noel. This problem exists whenever there are competing sources and no explanatory text is added to the entry. A painting of Cupid and Psyche, for instance, could have been taken from the original story by Apuleius or from the variant by Lafontaine. A scene that might be classified under ‘History’ – the death of Amy Robsart for example – might have been inspired by a work of fiction while well-known characters and scenes from fiction such as Othello or Faust may often have...

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