Salon de 1879

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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 5,895 entries in the livret and the exhibition was electrically illuminated for evening viewing.  

A portrait in pastel of Joris-Karl Huysmans by Jean-Louis Forain from around 1878 occupies the collage background. Forain exhibited with the Impressionists.  Huysmans was a writer and critic who became strongly associated with the Symbolist movement in the 1880’s. His review of this Salon, however, aligns him with the Realist/naturalist critical tradition of Émile Zola.  The collage contains works selected and more or less discussed by Huysmans. Quotations from his review indicate his support of modernism in what he described as the carnival-like/mardi gras atmosphere of the exhibition.

If one were to keep a scorecard of Huysmans’ likes and dislikes, only Manet, Raffaëlli, Gonzales, Renoir, Fantin La Tour, and the sculptor Saint-Marceaux received high marks. Others, such as Puvis de Chavannes, Gervez, Bastien-Lepage, Dagnan-Bouveret, and Carolus Duran garnered qualified support. The remaining works were either unsupportable or barely mentioned.  
Huysmans defended Manet’s second painting, Boating, against those who were exasperated by the bright/unreal blue water (above; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Huysmans considered Bastien-Lepage’s second painting in the exhibition, October, a repetition of his peasant theme in the previous Salon (below; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).  
Finally, Huysmans advised Duez to abandon religious subjects and return to scenes of modern Parisian life. Below is the complete St. Cuthbert triptych.