Paris Salon of 1824

A national, government-sponsored exhibition and prize competition, the Salon of 1824 launched three artists of widely varying styles who would become world famous: John Constable, Eugène Delacroix, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

Summary of Event

The art exhibition known as the Paris Salon, or simply the Salon, began in the seventeenth century. It was at first both intermittent and variable in location and format, but it became a permanent, regular event beginning in 1737. The Salon of 1824 proved particularly noteworthy, because it represented the coming to prominence of three radically different European artists, each of whom would go on to be recognized as a nineteenth century master. More than one thousand paintings, juried and accepted by the royal commission, were displayed at the 1824 Salon. Paris Salon of 1824
France;Paris Salon of 1824
Constable, John
Delacroix, Eugène
Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique
Art;Paris Salon of 1824
[kw]Paris Salon of 1824 (1824)
[kw]Salon of 1824, Paris (1824)
[kw]1824, Paris Salon of (1824)
Paris Salon of 1824
France;Paris Salon of 1824
Constable, John
Delacroix, Eugène
Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique
Art;Paris Salon of 1824
[g]France;1824: Paris Salon of 1824[1260]
[c]Art;1824: Paris Salon of 1824[1260]
Charles X

One of John Constable’s entries, The Hay Wain, won a gold medal in the overall competition. The painting—a tranquil, pastoral scene of a draught horse, a farmer, and a hay wagon cooling its wheels in a pond during a pause in the harvest—featured an extended view of a sumptuous, dewy landscape. It seemed to offer a nostalgic retreat from the dawning Industrial Revolution Industrial Revolution;and art[Art]
Art;and Industrial Revolution[Industrial Revolution] to a bygone rural era. Constable had left his native village of East Bergholt, Suffolk, sometime before rich landowners in the area took advantage of the enclosure laws to claim the commons for themselves and to drive off the gleaners and subsistence farmers. Thus, his compositions of the village were doubly nostalgic, truer to his memories than to the current state of his first home.

French painters and critics, unaware of recent British social history, focused on Constable’s painterly technique. He was unmatched in representing luminous, moist atmospheres over fields (just as J. M. W. Turner Turner, J. M. W. , who painted from a boat, was unrivaled in treating light and atmosphere over open water). Constable’s original title for The Hay Wain, Landscape: Noon, strongly suggests that light was his main subject, as it would be the main subject half a century later in Claude Monet’s series studying the façade of a cathedral, a lily pond, or a haystack at different times of day.

In 1821, Constable had begun to use subtly juxtaposed touches of white and contrasting primary colors. His fame in France had increased the same year, when the French fantasist and travel writer Charles Nodier praised Constable’s The Hay Wain in Promenade de Dieppe aux montagnes d’Écosse (1821; Promenade from Dieppe to the Mountains of Scotland, 1822). To create a market for Constable’s work in France, the dealer John Arrowsmith arranged for The Hay Wain, The View on the Stour Near Dedham, and a view of Hampstead Heath to be shown at the Paris Salon of 1824, where all three aroused great interest.

Meanwhile, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, back in France after spending sixteen years studying and painting in Italy, had accepted a commission for a painting of Louis XIII Louis XIII , who had reigned near the height of royal absolutism in the seventeenth century. Shrewdly avoiding the unintended unfavorable connotations of the original plan to depict Louis XIII praying before a Pietà—a depiction of Mary mourning over Christ’s body— (which would suggest royal repentance), Ingres instead portrayed the king dedicating his reign to the Blessed Virgin. The painting was an ideal opening wedge, allowing the artist to reenter the French art market and find wealthy, prominent patrons.

Eugène Delacroix, finally, had three compositions accepted for exhibition at the Salon of 1824. The most impressive of these, Scène des massacres de Scio: Familles grecques attendant la mort ou l’esclavage (Scene of the Massacre at Chios: Greek Families Awaiting Death or Slavery, commonly known as The Massacre at Chios), benefited from competition among wealthy collectors interested in the work. A composite scene of Turkish overlords raping, enslaving, and slaughtering innocent civilian populations on the Greek island of Scio, Delacroix’s painting was quietly purchased by Charles X’s curator even before it was publicly displayed—and without the king’s knowledge. This irregular, unprecedented action was intended to help mend the revolutionary breach of twenty-five years that had long deprived the French monarchy of its former role as the major patron of the arts and guardian of France’s national heritage.

Delacroix’s heavily muscled nude figures in distorted poses—noteworthy at the 1822 Salon in Dante et Virgile aux enfers (The Barque of Dante)—derived from Michelangelo, the painter of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling at the Vatican. This merely stylistic similarity to the papally chosen painter provided Delacroix with undeserved theocratic credentials in the eyes of the French court, credentials congenial to the conservative Charles X Charles X , who claimed to rule by divine right. The choice proved fortuitous nonetheless, as Delacroix’s illustrations of the great literary classics of the Western tradition—including those of William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Sir Walter Scott—would increase enormously by association the prestige of the new French monarchy.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

(Library of Congress)

The Massacre at Chios was not yet the mature work of a master: Its secondary compositional elements were somewhat awkward and were overly derivative of Delacroix’s inspirations, Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa and recent neoclassical art glorifying Napoleon and his empire. These shortcomings, however, were compensated by the painting’s topical interest as a sympathetic commentary on the Greeks oppressed by their Turkish masters and fighting for independence. Although the Greeks were Christians and the Turks were Muslims, Charles X Charles X would have preferred to continue supporting the established Turkish government, with which he and earlier French leaders had had longstanding relations. Public opinion, though, was spurred in 1824 by the death of George Gordon, Lord Byron Byron, Lord
[p]Byron, Lord;death of , while fighting for the Greek cause and by Delacroix’s painting. It finally pushed the French France;and Greece[Greece]
Greece;and France[France] government into supporting the Greeks, who won independence in 1830. Delacroix thus anticipated Pablo Picasso’s Picasso, Pablo anti-fascist protest painting, Guernica, shown in Paris in 1937.


The great painters unveiled at the Salon of 1824 participated not only in the rarefied world of art but in the realm of French politics and ideology as well. Charles X’s newly established monarchy sought to legitimize itself by bridging the twenty-five-year gap created by the French First Republic and First Empire to connect the new king with the traditional monarchy in the eyes of the people. The French monarchic succession had gone unbroken since the eighth century, before it was interrupted by the French Revolution (1789) and Napoleon’s regime (1804-1815), and Charles’s political success depended on inserting himself in the established tradition to acquire the dignity of his forebears. A major focus of this effort to connect the king with history was historical painting, which created a public record of the past while simultaneously glorifying French rulers.

In addition to participating in this process, Ingres’s Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The Vow of Louis XIII) linked the monarchy to the Roman Catholic Church France;and Roman Catholic Church[Roman Catholic Church] , whose aegis provided absolute monarchs with the semblance of divine approval. Moreover, although Delacroix did not render obeisance to established religion, he shared with Ingres an at least implicit homage to the established European powers. Both Delacroix’s and Ingres’s work engaged in orientalism—an ideology that rendered the East exotic, mysterious, and otherworldly—for example in the highly sexualized depiction of the Maghreb and the Middle East in the guise of female sex slaves. They thus helped represent the continuing French conquest of North Africa as being justified by the decadence of that region. The motif of European dominance, depicted simultaneously in representations of Europe as invader and as voyeur, linked the Napoleonic expeditions at the turn of the nineteenth century to the expansive dream of a French manifest destiny in North Africa.

These two painters would sustain a fierce rivalry embodied in their divergent, neoclassical and Romantic, styles for forty more years (although Delacroix rejected the label of “Romantic”). Delacroix’s intensely kinetic compositions and figures, as well as his rough finish, contrasted starkly with Ingres’s static, neoclassical compositions and shiny, unctuous surfaces. Delacroix’s implicit painterly challenge to the existing order was overlooked because of the intriguing vitality and originality of his work. His Liberty Leading the People, a paean to the July Revolution France;July Revolution
July Revolution (1830) of 1830, appeared only after the constitutional monarchy sought by that uprising had become a fait accompli. He won major government commissions until the end of his life.

Meanwhile, to French eyes, the ideological “innocence” of the English landscape painter John Constable Constable, John allowed viewers in the Louvre Louvre Museum Museum to focus on his outstanding painterly qualities. His impressionistic effects in outdoor scenes anticipated the Barbizon School Barbizon School of the 1830’s and the Impressionist Impressionism;and Paris Salon[Paris Salon] movement in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, as well as the pointillists, such as Georges Seurat, who followed.

Further Reading

  • Bishop, Peter. An Archetypal Constable: National Identity and the Geography of Nostalgia. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995. Uses the Jungian concept of “archetype” to argue that Constable’s paintings helped create a British national identity by portraying imagined landscapes that defined “home” and, by extension, “self” for British subjects.
  • Bryson, Norman. Tradition and Desire: From David to Delacroix. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Seminal poststructuralist reading of French art and history; chapters 4 and 5 discuss Delacroix.
  • Duncan, Carol. “Ingres’s Vow of Louis XIII and the Politics of the Restoration.” In The Aesthetics of Power: Essays in Critical Art History. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Situates Ingres’s painting against the sociopolitical anxieties and tensions of its time.
  • Fraser, Elisabeth A. “Family as Nation in the Massacres of Chios,” In Delacroix, Art, and Patrimony in Post-Revolutionary France. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Sees a correspondence between Delacroix’s need to establish his artistic genealogy and Charles X’s need to establish his monarchic lineage: For both figures, patrimony was crucial, and their needs converge in the production and reception of Delacroix’s major paintings of the 1820’s.
  • Grigsby, Darcy Grimaldo. Extremities: Painting Empire in Post-Revolutionary France. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002. Reads the Massacres at Chios as part of the French colonial project of the nineteenth century.
  • Lambert, Ray. John Constable and the Theory of Landscape Painting. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Reveals Constable’s extensive knowledge of aesthetic theory and the ways in which that knowledge influenced his own paintings.
  • Siegfried, Susan L. “Ingres and the Theatrics of History Painting.” Word and Image 16, no. 1 (2000): 58-76. Examines Ingres’s deployment of theatrical tropes in the composition of his paintings.
  • Stendhal. Salons. Edited by Stéphane Guégan and Martine Reid. Paris: Gallimard, 2002. Includes Stendhal’s extensive review of the Salon of 1824. In French.
  • Vaughan, William. John Constable. London: Tate, 2002. Seeks to show Constable and his work in a new light by juxtaposing his paintings with his letters and other writing.

Emergence of the Primitives

Barbizon School of Landscape Painting Flourishes

July Revolution Deposes Charles X

Delacroix Paints Liberty Leading the People

La Sylphide Inaugurates Romantic Ballet’s Golden Age

Paris’s Salon des Refusés Opens

Metropolitan Museum of Art Opens

First Impressionist Exhibition

Post-Impressionist Movement Begins

Toulouse-Lautrec Paints At the Moulin Rouge

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John Constable; Eugène Delacroix; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres; Stendhal; J. M. W. Turner. Paris Salon of 1824
France;Paris Salon of 1824
Constable, John
Delacroix, Eugène
Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique
Art;Paris Salon of 1824