In the nineteenth century, public art exhibitions became the main place where artists could show and sell their work to the public. The Paris Salon is particularly well known, but similar sales exhibitions were also organized in other places and countries. In the Southern Netherlands, Ghent was the first city to organize an exhibition in 1792, followed by Brussels in 1811. When in 1813 Antwerp also initiated its own salon, the government decided that the organization had to be structured differently and the system of the triennial salon was introduced.
The first Triennial Salon took place in 1815 in Brussels, and alternated throughout the nineteenth century between Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. At the salons, artists, critics, patrons, dealers and government officials gain together to discuss concepts about artists and art. Furthermore, the well-attended public exhibitions created an opportunity for a diverse group of Belgians to view and form opinions about works of art. Also, the salons were important events for stimulating cultural and artistic life in Belgium in general, and for the hosting cities in particular.
Through various case studies, this research examines artists' different strategies for exhibiting at the Belgian triennial salons in the period 1814-1915, aiming to provide insight into the functioning of exhibitions throughout the nineteenth century. In doing so, it examines to what extent participation in the salons did or did not play a role in the careers of different types of artists in different periods of the nineteenth century. On the one hand, this examines exhibition strategies of nineteenth-century artists. At the same time, it aims to provide more insight into the functioning, importance and evolution of salons throughout the nineteenth century.
This is a joint PhD between Ghent University (prof. dr. Marjan Sterckx) and KU Leuven (prof.dr. Tom Verschaffel).