Art salons in France were basically art shows or exhibitions. Art salons were set up in different cities by academies, groups of artists, etc.  The most prestigious salon was sponsored by the French government and was set up in the Palace of the Louvre. It was known as the Salon de Paris, but was often called simply the Salon.”  Artwork needed to be approved by a select group of artists (a jury) to be admitted into the salon. The acceptance of an artist’s work into the Salon was a sign of respect and a high honor.

painting by French artist, François Joseph Heim, "Charles X Distributing Awards to Artists Exhibiting at the Salon of 1824 at the Louvre", 1827, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

painting by French artist, François Joseph Heim, “Charles X Distributing Awards to Artists Exhibiting at the Salon of 1824 at the Louvre”, 1827, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

In 1863, the Paris Salon rejected so many artists that Napoleon III was urged to set up a separate salon for those who were rejected, the Salon des Refuses, which was probably more popular than “the Salon.”

In the following years artists wanted another Salon des Refuses, but their requests were denied.  Therefore a group of artists, including Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and  Paul Cézanne formed the “Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers.”  Thirty artists displayed their art in their first salon in April, 1874. The group became  known as Impressionists. They organized a total of 8 salons. Their last salon was in 1886.

was formed in 1881 to assume the responsibility for the Salon de Paris instead of the French government. The Société des Artistes Français still organizes art salons to this present time (2014).

HENRI ROUSSEAU, Not Good Enough, but working to be better, 1883-1884
June 25, 1884 Henri, age 40, wrote a letter to the Minister for Public Education and Fine Arts. It seems that in 1883 Henri had tried to enter a painting in the Salon, but was rejected. Then he tried to re-work and improve his painting for the 1884 Salon, but he wrote that he finished it too late to enter it in the Salon. Henri continued in his letter pleading most sincerely, almost begging, for someone to buy his paintings and thus support him financially so he could devote himself to his art.
We are fortunate that many of Rousseau’s letters have been printed in a book entitled Henri Rousseau, which is a catalogue with some essays published for an exhibition in Paris (1984) and in New York (1985). The exhibition was  organized by Michael Hoog from the Musee de l’Orangerie and by Carolyn Lanchner and William Rubin from The Museum of Modern Art]

After these disappointments, Henri Rousseau decided to better himself by studying  artwork in the museums. September 23, 1884,  with the recommendation of Felix Clement (his neighbor), Henri was able to obtain a pass to study in the Galleries of the Louvre, the Luxembourg, the Versailles, and the Saint-Germain.

was formed on July 29, 1884 to give an aqual opportunity to all artists
. Their motto was (and is) “no jury, no reward” (“ni jury, ni récompense”). A fee was charged to exhibit an artwork, but an artist had the freedom to present any work of art to the public without restrictions. The first Salon des Indépendants was held during a bad winter in December, 1884. The Independants held their second salon in 1886 and then had a salon every year until World War I. 
[NOTE: The Salon des Independents began again in 1920 (after the war) and has continued until 2009 (?). Since 2006 they have exhibited together with the Society of French Artists, the Salon Comparaisons and the Drawing and Watercolour Salon to make one grand salon of about 2,000 artists called “Art en Capital” in the Grand Palais.]

NEXT:Part 10: Henri Rousseau’s Debut (1885) | A Carnival Evening (1886) GO TO  PART  10

1. The Story of a Man determined to be one of the Greatest Painters in France GO TO PART 1
2. Born in FRANCE|Kings & Castles|Revolution|Napoleon|Victor Hugo GO TO PART 2
3. Henri Rousseau | His Family and Childhood GO TO PART 3
4. Henri Rousseau | SOLDIER BOY GO TO PART 4
6: Henri Rousseau | Sunday Painter | Love and Life in Paris GO TO PART 6
7. Henri Rousseau | Six Children Died / Only Julia Lived Past Age 18. GO TO PART 7
8. Henri Rousseau | Paris Customs Office (The Douanier) | Painting on the Job GO TO PART 8
11. Henri Rousseau | Adieu, Mon Cher Amour. GO TO PART 11
12. Henri Rousseau | 1889 World’s Fair GO TO PART 12
13. Henri Rousseau | 1891 | Surprised!  GO TO PART 13
14. Henri Rousseau | Looking for Love in Paris | 1893 | Moving to Montparnasse GO TO PART 14
15. Henri Rousseau | full-time painter | “War” in 1894 | Julia: “Au revoir, papa” GO TO PART 15
16. Henri Rousseau | Ambroise Vollard – the art dealer GO TO PART 16
17. Henri Rousseau | Alfred Jarry | More on “War”| Paul Gauguin GO to PART 17
18. Henri Rousseau | 1895 Paintings |short Autobiography GO TO PART 18

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