In 1674, the royally sanctioned French institution of art patronage, the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (a division of the Académie des beaux-arts), held its first semi-public art exhibit at the Salon Carré. The Salon's original focus was the display of the work of recent graduates of the École des Beaux-Arts, which was created by Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister of France, in 1648. Exhibition at the Salon de Paris was essential for any artist to achieve success in France for at least the next 200 years. Exhibition in the Salon marked a sign of royal favor.

In 1725, the Salon was held in the Palace of the Louvre, when it became known as Salon or Salon de Paris. In 1737, the exhibitions became public and were held, at first, annually, and then biannually in odd number years. They would start on the feast day of St. Louis (25 August) and run for some weeks. Once made regular and public, the Salon's status was "never seriously in doubt" (Crow, 1987). In 1748 a jury was introduced. Its members were awarded artists. From this time Salon got its undisputed influence.



The current accepted use of word Salon is related to a photography competition.  Anyone interested in photography is invited to enter his/ her work for a salon.  The competition is judged, and a number of awards are awarded:

  • The Winner receives a national medal
  • The runner up image receives a club medal
  • The top 5% receives a certificate of merit
  • The top 20% receives an acceptance
It is considered quite an honor to receive a salon acceptance today.
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