Four hours at the Salon

Four hours at the Salon

To close

Title: Four hours at the Salon.

Author : BIARD François (1798 - 1882)

Creation date : 1847

Date shown: 1847

Dimensions: Height 57 - Width 67

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet web site

Picture reference: 88EE1824 / RF 2347

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Under the July Monarchy, the Living Artists Fair is an annual event held from March to June in the Salon Carré - from which it takes its name - and the Grand Galerie du Louvre. A real phenomenon of Parisian social and cultural life - see Controller Salomon des Goncourt (1867) and The Work de Zola (1886) -, it is also one of the challenges of the social recognition and professional success of artists.

"This Salon to which it all boils down, satisfaction of self-esteem, consideration, notoriety, fortune and daily bread. "(Adolphe Tabarant, Salon of 1840.)

Image Analysis

" We are closing ! ! ! "The guards roar around the great gallery, dressed in their red frock coats and wearing bicorns. Humorous scene depicting the closing time of the penultimate salon organized at the Louvre, Biard's painting illustrates the material conditions of the organization of the exhibition: canvases piled up on the walls, poorly lit, illegible, impractical traffic in the exhibition halls. The attendance of the public, where we recognize Sainte-Beuve reading the newspaper, is phenomenal; over its entire duration, the Salon recorded more than one million visitors, the equivalent of the Parisian population at the time. The works on display are the subject of lively commentaries, soon relayed by critics appearing in the form of reviews to follow from one issue to the next in newspapers and art magazines, which then make their first appearance. We are witnessing collective reactions of enthusiasm or rejection, visible in the various attitudes and postures of visitors. “A theme favored by satirical cartoonists and by certain chroniclers in their reports of the Salon, direct oral commentary operated […] as a form of social communication and, above all, as a method of forming opinion on the visual arts . Historical or anecdotal subjects that are commented on aloud, and each element of which calls for identification, enumeration, explanation; know-how that we judge. »(G. Monnier, 1995, p. 136-137).


In the middle of the XIXe century, the Salon, branch of the Academy, is a central and dominant institution. It appears as an essential cultural manifestation, where the vox populi sign of the success or failure of an artist. Place of exhibition and meeting with the public, its economic role is essential in the system of commissions made to the artist by the State, which is then the first patron. It is the "relevant device of a period of transition between a monarchical society and its aristocratic patrons on the one hand, and on the other hand a merchant society endowed with a speculative art market, powerful and structured". (G. 130).

  • July Monarchy
  • Goncourt (Brothers)
  • Sainte-Beuve (Charles-Augustin)
  • Zola (Emile)
  • Art fair


Gerard MONNIER Art and its institutions in France from the Revolution to the present day Paris, Gallimard, 1995.Léon ROSENTHAL From romanticism to realism, an essay on the evolution of painting in France from 1830 to 1848 1st ed. 1914, reprint Paris, Macula, 1987.

To cite this article

Emmanuelle GAILLARD, "Four hours at the Salon"

Video: twenty-four hours - begin to end @ The Salon 92613