4/ The Inauguration of Prizes and Medals
Prizes and medals: a form of encouragement specific to the Salon (Univers des Arts, Limited edition series no.1, June 1996).
The establishment of a system of prizes dates back to 1793. The first jury, responsible for the selection of prize winners was elected in 1849. It was made up of 40 members, including Delacroix, Ingres, Corot, and Isabey.
On this occasion, a system of medals was also created: the Medal of Honour, the First-Place Medal of a value of 1,500 gold francs, the Second-Place Medal of a value of 500 gold francs, and the Third-Place Medal of a value of 250 gold francs.
The title ‘honourable mention’ appeared in 1857, with the aim of making up for the insufficient number of medals awarded to deserving artists.
In an effort to continually encourage the artists, the title ‘Medal status maintained’ was awarded to those artists who had successfully maintained their level of excellence from one year to the next. It was not possible to award the same prize to the same artist twice.
The Exhibition Catalogue: Quite the Novelty!
The Four Parts of the World by Jean Baptiste Carpeaux
Fontaine de l’Observatoire in Paris
(Univers des Arts, Limited edition series no. 1, June 1996). The first booklet dates back to 1673, of which there are only three editions in existence today. It wasn’t until 1699 that a second booklet was published, consisting of 23 pages. It was sold for 2.5 francs. There were no reprints published.
The third booklet dates from 1704 and it wasn’t until 1737 that the booklet became a permanent feature of each exhibition.
The publication of an accompanying booklet was a major step towards innovation in that it allowed the public to learn the name of the artists and the works exhibited. The first booklets, up until 1801, were organized not by alphabetical order of the artists, but according to the layout of the exhibition. They also contained explanations of the works on display.
From 1887 to 1914, in addition to the official booklet, an illustrated catalogue was also published, featuring drawings and photographs of the exhibited artists. Gradually making more and more use of reproductions, firstly in black and white in 1965, and then in colour from 1972 onwards, from 1992 onwards, it contained a photograph of the work of each exhibitor, thereby allowing visitors to the Salon to bring home with them a souvenir of the exhibition.
In the art world today, the catalogue has become an indispensable item, providing the public with a lasting souvenir of an exhibition and is a valuable tool in terms of research and an archive for future generations.
The humble booklet that evolved into the art catalogue was born at our Salon, and has become an important element of art exhibitions all over the world today.