Salon de 1878

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Below are photographs from the Archives nationales (Paris) of works acquired by the government. See here for more information.

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There were 4,985 entries in the livret and a third international exposition including a retrospective exhibition of French art since the 1867 world’s fair. The official Salon was somewhat overlooked and overshadowed.  

The collage includes a photograph of Frédéric Bartholdi’s completed colossal head of the Statue of Liberty that was displayed on the fairgrounds (background), as well as a commemorative world’s fair ribbon.  Bartholdi exhibited a plaster model of his monumental Lion de Belfort in the Salon that symbolized French resistance during the Franco-Prussian War.  That work is lost and included above is the large bronze that was installed in Paris in 1880 in Place Denfert-Rochereau.  
There was much talk about the jury rejecting Henri Gervex’s Rolla for immorality (above; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux).  The painting was based on a poem about a young man’s life of idleness and debauchery by Alfred de Musset.  Gervex, a previous Salon medal winner, was a student of Fromentin and Cabanel.

Bastien-Lepage also based his painting on a poem, part of which was included in the livret. The poet André Theuriet was noted for verses celebrating rustic country life.

Dagnan-Bouveret took his subject from an eighteenth-century novel by Abbé Prévost.  His heroine Manon Lescaut died in the Louisiana wilderness after many adventures.  

Carolus Duran’s ceiling painting glorifying Marie de’ Medici was intended for the seventeenth-century queen’s Paris residence, the Luxembourg Palace.  

Fantin La Tour’s group portrait represents the Dubourg family, including the artist’s wife and in-laws.

Adolphe Crémieux (died 1880) was a lawyer and statesman known for his defense of Jewish human rights.  

Former president of the Republic and former art critic Adolphe Thiers died in 1877.