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THE TRIUMPH OF BEAUTY - THE EPOCH OF SALON PAINTING FROM MAKART TO ROSSETTI
The exhibition “The Triumph of Beauty: The Epoch of Salon painting from Makart to Rossetti” is devoted to the long-neglected bourgeois art of the nineteenth century. It focuses not on the avant-garde artists of the time, but on the socially acceptable ‘Salon painting’, as it was called. While a small group of Impressionists fought for recognition in France, the bourgeoisie held its annual Salon exhibition, at which thousands of pictures were displayed and sold. Unlike academic painting, in which mythological subjects predominated, genre paintings enjoyed increasing popularity – as an indication of the separation of the aristocracy from the bourgeoisie. In France proponents were known as ‘artistes pompiers’. In England the new painting style was fostered by the Pre-Raphaelites, while in Russia the movement was known as bourgeois Realism.
Within this bourgeois world, the focus on and personalisation of the individual in society was clearly reflected in the painting of the time. Favourite subjects now included everyday life, religious, moral and political representations of bourgeois life, and its pleasures, fantasies and suffering. Artists often resorted to themes from the past and took inspiration from the magnificent feasts and celebrations of the time, paying homage in this way to beauty for its own sake. Because of their content and the masterly technique with which they were painted, these pictures enjoyed a large degree of popularity.
The exhibition compares and contrasts the various thematic directions: historical and religious painting, mythology and antiquity, the Orient and the exotic, beauty and illusion, modern life, portraits and erotic art.
Many outstanding representatives of Salon painting who have largely and unjustifiably fallen into oblivion today can be rediscovered in the exhibition. Jean Béraud, Henri Gervex from France, John William Waterhouse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir William Holman-Hunt from England, or Ilya Repin from Russia are among the greatest exponents of this bourgeois realism that dominated practically the whole of Europe from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.
Where & When
Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Henri Gervex, William Holman Hunt, Albert Moore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Solomon Joseph Solomon, John William Waterhouse
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