The Grand Palais
The exhibition of 1900 was intended as an ode to art.
Given the scope and ambition of the project, it was therefore decided to construct a permanent structure.
An architectural competition for the design of the structure was launched on 9 August 1894.
The construction of the Grand Palais was realized for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris.
Front section - Société des Artistes Français Archive
The inscription carved on the pediment confirms the vocation of the building:
‘This monument has been erected by the Republic for the glory of French Art’
The details of this architectural competition specified that a large-scale architectural and urban planning project was to be envisioned for the 112 hectares allocated for the project on the Champs-Élysées.
The ensemble was to include the Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Pont Alexandre III (bridge) and the views that connect the Champs-Élysées to the Esplanade des Invalides.
It was also specified that a wide porch should lead to a large central nave, crowned with a glass dome, that was to be dedicated to sculpture, adjoining which, a series of spaces would be used as galleries and painting rooms. An emphasis was to be placed on natural light, in order to enhance the artworks on display.
An architectural competition for the design of the structure was launched in August 1894. 260 candidates applied. However, only 59 projects were submitted by the deadline of July 1896.
The members of the committee of the Société des Artistes Français met on the 30 November 1894 to decide upon the structure that would be dedicated to art within the context of the next Exposition Universelle
‘Now more than ever, it is necessary to maintain the superiority with which we are viewed by other nations and to ensure that Paris retains her reputation as the centre of the French arts as our forefathers would have wanted.’
Tony ROBERT-FLEURY, Recording secretary.
The demolition of the Palais de l’Industrie on the Champs-Élysées, home to the previous editions of the Salon, was done to create the space needed for the construction of the new venue.
The Société was now faced with a new challenge, however: where would the Salon take place while awaiting completion of the new building?
The competition takes shape
Alongside the French Minister of Culture, the following individuals oversaw the competition for the design of the arts space:
- Léon BONNAT, Vice-President off the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Academy)
- Edouard DETAILLE, member of the Institut and President off the société des Artistes Français
- Charles GARNIER, President off the société des Architectes and committee member of the ARTISTES FRANÇAIS
- BARRIAS, Sculptor and Vice-President of the Société des ARTISTES FRANÇAIS
- PUVIS de CHAVANNE, President of the SNBA Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (National Society for the Fine Arts) and former member of the ARTISTES FRANÇAIS
- RODIN, Vice-President of the SNBA and former member of the ARTISTES FRANÇAIS.