Edited By James Kearns and Alister Mill
The Exhibition of Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours in the French Salon: 1863–1881
In nineteenth-century France, the category of drawing (dessin) was widely understood to comprise watercolour, pastel, gouache and charcoal in addition to pen and pencil.2 The French sometimes call this grouping ‘the graphic arts’, a term that the English language uses to denote the inclusion of prints. Within Salon catalogues, drawings were usually grouped alongside ‘lesser’ decorative arts, such as enamels, porcelain and stained glass, as well as with miniature paintings, which were considered to be a different and lesser practice than larger paintings even though they were made with oil.3 While the grouping of drawings with the decorative arts never changed in the catalogues, a fluctuation nevertheless occurred in the degree to which this group (drawings and decorative arts) was considered part of the painting section. Using data analysis, this chapter will study the 10,979 drawings exhibited at the Salons from 1863 to 1881.
1863 is an appropriate year from which to begin this study for several reasons. The selection of artworks made by the jury of 1863 upset so many artists that many signed a petition leading Napoleon III to create ← 371 | 372 → the Salon des Refusés for that year, enabling artists to freely exhibit their works without judgment by a jury. The Salon des Refusés was hung in the Palais de l’Industrie adjacent to the regular Salon, giving visitors the ability to critique the jury’s selections. Following the Salon des Refusés, an imperial decree was enacted which, significantly, handed...
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