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The History of the Salon des Artistes

1/ Chronological History

From 1663 and the first ‘Sallons’ to the present day, below is a presentation of our history, including several key events, such as the founding of the Société des Artistes Français.

1663 – Louis XIV and Colbert, keen to see the State’s glory extend to the domain of the arts, declare the Académie to be the unique representative of painting in France and decide that an exhibition shall be held every year of its members’ work.

1667 – The first event of what would become known as the ‘Salon’ takes place on the 23 April. It is held in the premises of the Académie, and is the first exhibition of art in France that is open to the public.

1668-81 – The exhibition is held every two years in the ‘gallery of the Palais Royal and the courtyard of the Palais Richelieu’.

1699 – The future ‘Salon’ takes up residence in the ‘grande galerie’ (main gallery) of the Louvre and comprises four disciplines: painting, sculpture, intaglios and cameos (engraving).

1725 – The exhibition is held in the ‘Salon de la Cour Carrée du Louvre’ (one of the Louvre’s main courtyards), up until the mid-19th century, and on this occasion its name is changed to the ‘Salon’.

1759 - Diderot writes his first ‘Chroniques du Salon’ (Salon Chronicles). He also reports on the Salons of 1761,1763,1765,1767,1769,1771,1775 and 1781.

1785 - David exhibits The Oath of the Horatii, an example of neo-Classicism. Houdon’s sculpture of Diana is deemed too shocking for the public and is withdrawn from the exhibition.

1791 – A decree authorizes the Salon ‘free and universal’, open to everyone, whatever their nationality and pictorial preferences.

1793 - David, now a member of the French government, votes for the suppression of the Académie on the 8 August. The new Salon, influenced by Republican ideals, implements an awards system that is still in use today.

1819 - Géricault exhibits his painting, The Raft of the Medusa, which he completes at the Salon, on the very morning of its inauguration to the public.

1824 - Delacroix exhibits The Massacre at Chios, hailed a triumph of Romanticism.

1831 - The Salon becomes an annual event.

1845 - Charles Baudelaire publishes his first ‘Salon’.

1849 - Courbet exhibits Burial at Ornans, a manifesto of Realism.

1855 - Napoléon III declares that the Salon shall take place as part of the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) that is to be held the same year. 770 international artists exhibit 5,000 artworks in the ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’, specially built for this purpose.

Edouard ManetSociété des Artistes Français Archive

1865 Manet presents Olympia and the jury approves its submission. The critics and public alike are scandalized by its inclusion.

1880 - Jules Ferry inaugurates the Société des Artistes Français, a committee of 90 members, elected by previously admitted artists.

1883 - Manet exhibits A Bar at the Folies-Bergères and dies the very morning of the Salon’s inauguration.

On 11 March 1883, the Société’s statutes are approved by decree.
The French State allows the Société des Artistes Français the use of an annual exhibition venue for the symbolic fee of 1 franc.

The Société des Artistes Français is recognized by the State as an institution in the public interest on 11 May 1883.


1899 - Francis Picabia, one of the future pioneers of the Dada Movement, exhibits his first painting The Martigues.

1947-59 - Georges Rouault exhibits his work at the Salon every year.

1976 - Bernard Buffet exhibits Cheval en liberté (Selected the Gold Medal winner by the Jury).

1981-90 - Arnaud d’Hauterives, a member of the Institute is the President of the Artistes Français, before being elected permanent secretary of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

1994 – Closure of the Grand Palais for renovation work, the ‘Salon’ moves to the Espace Eiffel Branly until 2001, then the Espace Auteuil and finally, the Parc Floral de Vincennes.

2006 – Re-opening of the Grand Palais. The Salon is held there as part of the ‘Art Capital’ event, which brings together five salons, including three historical art fairs.



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