About the Paris Salons
From the late seventeenth century to the present, well-attended public exhibitions of artwork in Paris created an opportunity for a diverse group of Parisians to view and form opinions about works of art, architecture, and design. Between 1667 and 1789 the French monarchy sponsored periodic exhibitions of works by members of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. The Salon Carré and nearby rooms in the Louvre were the setting for these exhibitions from 1725, and the exhibitions therefore became known as the Salon. Printed catalogs for these Salons, called livrets, were first issued in 1673. Beginning in 1791 the Salon was sponsored by varying government bodies. The Académie royale was replaced by the École des beaux–arts in 1795 and at this point the Salon was opened to all artists, including artists from outside France. American artists exhibited for the first time in the Salon of 1800.
During the course of the nineteenth century the Salon became an annual event and it was designated the exposition officielle from the 1866 catalog. In the later 19th– and into the 20th century, various non-governmental Parisian associations organized regular art exhibitions, also called salons: the Salon des Artistes Français (1881), the Salon des Indépendants (1884), the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1890), and the Salon d’Automne (1903). These competing Salons diminished the impact of the exhibition, and by the start of the 20th century the Salons had lost their status as the world’s most significant exhibitions of contemporary art.
The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries hold a number of works published by and about these annual exhibitions, including original livrets, illustrated catalogs, periodicals, and reprint editions of the catalogs that contain indexes, essays, and prefatory texts. The following works in the library’s open shelf reference collection contain information on the Paris Salons:
American Art at the Nineteenth–Century Paris Salons
Call number: N6510 .F57 1990
Documenting the Salon: Paris Salon Catalogs 1673–1945
Call number: N5065 .N38 2016
Exhibitions that Made Art History, Volume I: Salon to Biennial, 1863–1959
Call number: N6447 .S17 2008
French Salon Artists, 1800–1900
Call number: N530.A56 B74 1987
To locate additional resources on the Paris Salon, search the library catalog for the following phrases:
Art –– France –– Paris –– Exhibitions
Art –– France –– Paris –– Exhibitions –– Catalogs
Art, French –– 19th century –– Exhibitions
Art, French –– 19th century –– Exhibitions –– Catalogs
Salon (Exhibition: Paris, France)
Salon (Exhibition: Paris, France) –– Catalogs
Individual catalogs have lengthy titles that varied over time, often due to the changing scope of the exhibitions. You can locate most entries by searching the library catalog for the phrase Salon (Exhibition: Paris, France) as either a subject or an author. If you are seeking original editions, searching for the title Explication des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure, dessins, modeles pulls up most of the catalogs for this period. Please note the Ryerson’s holdings are not complete; the volumes for 1673, 1699, 1704, and 1799 are photocopies, and the Ryerson is lacking catalogs for 1737–1798, 1800–1812, 1827–1832, 1851, 1855, 1875, 1879, and 1880.
A scholarly reprint edition of the Salon catalogs for 1673 to 1800 titled Collection des livrets des anciennes expositions depuis 1673 jusqu’en 1800 was published by Liepmannsohn et Dufour between 1869 and 1872. The Ryerson holds a complete copy of this set, as well as the artist index published in 1873. This edition contains historical and bibliographical notes. These volumes are freely available online in full text in Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Catalogues of the Paris Salon, 1673 to 1881, a facsimile reprint edition of all the official Salon catalogs issued between 1673 and 1880, was edited by H.W. Janson and published in 1977–1978 by Garland. This set also includes the catalogs of several other exhibitions, notably that of the Salon des refusés (1863) and the first issue of the successor catalog to the official Salons, issued by the Société des artistes français (see below) in 1881. Ryerson seems to have purchased only reprints of titles it lacked in the original.
More recently, Pierre Sanchez published the catalogs of the Paris Salons from 1800–1913 in facsimile under the title Les catalogues des salons des beaux–arts (Paris, 1999–2014), with indexes in each volume.
Illustrated Catalogs of the Government–Sponsored Salon to 1880
The official livrets of the Salon were long lists of the artworks. Although they were popular with the public, these catalogs were not illustrated. After the scandal surrounding the Salon de refusés in 1863, the magazine L’autographe published illustrated surveys of the salons of 1864 and 1865 in line drawings and caricature. The Ryerson holds both the 1864 and the 1865 issues in volume one of this title. Digital copies of the 1864 and 1865 issues are freely available online in full text through the Getty Research Portal.
Prior to regular commercial publication of illustrated catalogs of the official Salon, initiated by Ludovic Baschet in 1879, there were at least two large volumes of plates published by Goupil, for the Salons of 1872 and 1874. Ryerson has only the 1874 issue, Salon de 1874.
In 1879 Baschet also published the first volume in another, projected series of illustrated catalogs: Catalogue illustré. The Ryerson holds both the 1879 and 1880 issues of this periodical, as well as a complete set of subsequent issues through 1913. Georges Lafenestre edited a series of volumes titled Le Livre d’or du Salon de peintre et de sculpture beginning in 1879 and extending to 1891, that included works from the government–sponsored official Salon (1879–1880), the successor Salon of the Société des artistes français (1881–1890) and the rival Salon of the Société nationale des beaux–arts (1890–1891). The Ryerson holds all twelve volumes. In all of these cases, illustrated catalogs included only selected works from each Salon, not all works exhibited.
Beginning in 1881 the French government relinquished responsibility for sponsoring the official Salons. This function was assumed by the Société des artistes français (SAF) which held annual exhibitions and issued accompanying catalogs continually through 1914. Original editions of these catalogs are available in the Ryerson under the title Explication des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants. A reprint edition, containing facsimiles of the catalogs through 1913, is available under the title Les catalogues des salons des beaux-arts. No Salons were held between 1915 and 1918.
In 1919 a joint exhibition was held with a rival organization, the Société nationale des beaux–arts (SNBA), for which an illustrated catalog was issued: Exposition organisée au profit des oeuvres de guerre.
Annual Salons sponsored by the SAF resumed in 1920, and the Ryerson holds a complete set of original editions available under the title Explication des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure, dessins, modeles. From 1940 onward the Salons were organized collaboratively with various other organizations. The 1940 catalog was issued under the title Exposition de l’art français, but this can be found in the Ryerson collection under the title Explication des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure, dessins, modeles. Beginning in 1941 the catalogs were titled simply Salon; from the early 1970s the title was Le Salon, and from 1983 the exhibition catalogs were issued under the title Salon des artistes français. In addition to the year, these publications bear the numerical designations of the official Salons reckoning back to 1673.
Illustrated catalogs of the Salon of the Société des artistes français (1881–1994)
Between 1879 and 1914, Baschet and successor publishers issued their catalogs under the title: Catalogue illustré du Salon de…. A series of deluxe, illustrated catalogs for the official Salon, which later included works exhibited at the Salon of the Société nationale des beaux–arts, also was published by Baschet and successors between 1880 and 1908, with the titles L’exposition des beaux–arts (Salon de … ) (1880–1882); Salon de … (1883–1900); and Les Salons de … (1901– 1908). English–language editions appeared for at least some volumes in this series.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, various publishers issued individual, illustrated volumes for either the official SFA Salon or the rival Salon of the Société nationale des beaux–arts, or both. Notable among these are: Le livre d’or du Salon de peinture et de sculpture (1879–1891), edited by Georges Lafenestre, which the Ryerson holds in its entirety; and Paris–Salon (1881–1893), published by E. Bernard, for which the Ryerson is lacking 1881. Armand Guérinet issued a series of publications illustrating selected works from the Salon of the Société des artistes français between 1898 and 1913 under the titles: L’Art décoratif aux Expositions des beaux-arts (1898–1904); and L’Art decorative aux Salons de … (1905–1913) Ryerson has only the 1907 and 1908 volumes. Ryerson also holds the 1896 edition of Guérinet’s L’Architecture aux Salons.
The official Salon catalogs included illustrations beginning in 1920.
Starting in 1884, the Société des artistes indépendants held an annual exhibition in Paris that had no jury and no prizes. In the course of revolutionary developments in painting in late 19th-century France, both artists and the public became increasingly unhappy with the rigid and exclusive policies of the official Salon. In 1863 the Salon des Refusés was held by command of Napoleon III for artists whose works had been rejected by the official Salon. In 1880 the Salon rejected the work of many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters; consequently, in 1883 the Impressionists organized a second Salon des Refusés. By 1884 the Société des artistes indépendants had been founded, to hold non-juried exhibitions, which would accept the work of any artist who wished to participate. The group’s first show, held in the pavilion of the city of Paris, included paintings by Odilon Redon, Henri-Edmond Cross, Paul Signac, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat, whose Bathers at Asnières (1883–84) had been refused by the official Salon that same year. By 1905 Henri Rousseau, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and the Fauves had all exhibited at this annual show.
The Salon des Indépendants (held since 1950 at the Grand Palais in Paris) had about 3,000 members at the turn of the 21st century. Many have received international acclaim for their role in avant-garde art movements. The Salon des Indépendants is now only one of many outlets for new art in Paris, along with the Salon d’Automne, Salon de Mai, Salon de la Jeune Peinture, and Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, among others. A detailed overview of the society and its exhibitions is available in Jean Monneret’s Catalogue raisonné du Salon des Indépendants, 1884–2000: les Indépendants dans l’histoire de l’art. This work includes an alphabetical index of artists and the years they exhibited through the year 2000. Dominique Lobstein’s Dictionnaire des independants, 1884–1914 provides an alphabetical list of artists and their works for the first three decades of expositions.
Catalogs for the exhibitions held between 1884 and 1993 can be found under the title Exposition. Note that the Ryerson holdings are incomplete; the library lacks original catalogs from the years 1884–1900, and these volumes are the Garland reprint editions. Catalogs from the years 1900–1910, 1913-1914, 1941, 1945, 1952, and 1979–1989 are also lacking. Catalogs from 1994 on are cataloged under the title Le Salon des indépendants. These holdings are also incomplete, with the library lacking 1999–2001, 2003, 2010, and 2014.
Originally established in 1862, the Société nationale des beaux-arts (SNBA) ceased to mount exhibitions after its 1864 Delacroix retrospective until it was revitalized in 1890 as a rival organization to the official Salon of the Société des artistes français. Known as the Salon de Champs-de-Mars, its annual exhibitions traditionally opened two weeks later than those of the official Salon des Champs-Élysées. Catalogs were issued between 1890 and 1939 under the title: Catalogue des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture et gravure; the title varied slightly over time, indicative of the changing scope of the exhibitions. In the Ryerson, the 1890 catalog can be found under the title Catalogue des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture et gravure, while the catalogs for 1891–1939 are cataloged under the title Catalogue des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, dessins, gravure et objets d’art. The Ryerson holdings are incomplete, and the library lacks the catalogs for 1891, 1893, and 1923. No Salons were held between 1915 and 1918. In 1919 a joint exhibition was held with the rival organization, the Société des artistes français, for which an illustrated catalog was issued: Exposition organisée au profit des oeuvres de guerre. A reprint edition of the SNBA catalogs published between 1890 and 1925, including an index, is available under the title Les catalogues les Salons de la Société nationale des beaux-arts.
In 1937, and between 1940 and 1953 the SNBA, together with the Société des artistes français and other organizations held collaborative annual salons for which single catalogs were issued (see Société des artistes français (1881–1994), above. From 1954 onward, the SNBA resumed its independent annual exhibitions for which catalogs were issued under the title Salon; the Ryerson holds a full run of this title through the year 1979.
Illustrated catalogs of the Salon of the Société nationale des beaux–arts (1890–1914)
From the inception of its annual Salons in 1890 through 1914, the Société nationale des beaux– arts issued an official, illustrated catalog: Catalogue illustré des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture et gravure exposés au Champ–de–Mars (1890–1898). The Ryerson lacks this publication, although the library holds a reprint edition, published by Garland in 1981 under the title Salon of the “Nationale.” The 1890–1898 Catalogue illustré des ouvrages was succeeded by Catalogue illustré du Salon de … (1899–1914) for which the Ryerson holds a complete set. The 1890 and 1891 volumes edited by Georges Lafenestre: Le livre d’or du Salon de peinture et de sculpture are illustrated catalogs covering both the official Salon and the Salon of the Nationale. The regular catalogs of the Salon were illustrated beginning in 1924, although an illustrated supplement was issued for a few years prior to that date: Salon illustré: annexe au catalogue official. Ryerson lacks this publication. As is the case with the other Salons, illustrated catalogs contain a selection of exhibited works, and do not illustrate all works in the exhibitions.
The name for this annual exhibition derived from the fact it was held in Paris in the fall. It was established in 1903 as an alternative to the official Salon. Founding members Bonnard, Matisse, Marquet, and Rouault established the exhibition as an alternative to the official Salon. Its best remembered exhibition was held in 1905, when the critic Louis Vauxcelles labelled Matisse and his associates Fauves. The early Salons d’Automne were also important in establishing the reputations of Gauguin and Cézanne, who exhibited in major retrospective shows in 1906 and 1907 respectively.
Titles for the Salon catalog vary from year to year, and the Ryerson holdings include both print and microform copies. The 1903 catalog is available in the Ryerson under the title Catalogue de peinture, dessin, sculpture, gravure, architecture et arts décoratif, while the catalogs for 1903–1905 are available on microfiche under the same title. Catalogs for the years 1906–1945 are available in the Ryerson under the title Catalogue des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, dessin, gravure, architecture et art décoratif. The library lacks print catalogs for 1910, 1913, 1925, 1931, 1934, 1936–1937, and 1942, though these are available in microfiche. The Ryerson holdings for 1946–1965 are available under the title Catalogue both in print and in microfiche, and complete in both formats, while the title Salon d’Automne is used for the Ryerson’s holdings of catalogs from 1967 to the present, which are complete in print. Exhibitions were not held in 1914–1918, 1939, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1974, and 1995.
Useful summary publications include the three volume set L’art en effervescence : 100 ans de salon d’automne, 1903–2003. T.1–2 in this set provide a useful historical synthesis of the exhibitions, while t.3 is an alphabetical list of artists and their years of participation (but not works exhibited), for the years 1903–2003. Pierre Sanchez’s Dictionnaire du Salon d’Automne : répertoire des exposants et liste des oeuvres présentées, 1903–1945 is another three-volume work that provides an alphabetical list of artists and works exhibited for the years 1903–1945.