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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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The Exhibition of Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours in the French Salon: 1863–1881

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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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